Today is International Women’s Day! Despite having the first woman in space, Valentina Tereshkova in 1963, Russia has only sent two other women into space. Svetlana Savitskaya made a trip to Salyut 7 in 1982 and became the first woman to perform a spacewalk in 1984. Yelena Kondakova was the first woman to be part of a long-duration mission on Mir in 1994. These were just those that made it into space, there were many other women selected.
Yelena Serova and Anna Kikina are part of the active group of cosmonauts. Serova will be part of ISS expeditions 41 and 42 starting in Sept 2014. Kikina is new, she was selected in Oct 2012 and is in basic training for the next two years.
Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova (Russian: Валенти́на Влади́мировна Терешко́ва; born 6 March 1937) is a retired Soviet cosmonaut and the first woman to have flown in space, having been selected from more than four hundred applicants and five finalists to pilot Vostok 6 on 16 June 1963.Before being recruited as a cosmonaut, Tereshkova was a textile factory assembly worker and an amateur parachutist. After the dissolution of the first group of female cosmonauts in 1969, she became a prominent member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, holding various political offices. She remained politically active following the collapse of the Soviet Union and is still revered as a heroine in post-Soviet Russia.……Valentina Tereshkova later became a prominent member of the Soviet government and a well known representative abroad. She was made a member of the World Peace Council in 1966, a member of the Yaroslavl Soviet in 1967, a member of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union in 1966–1970 and 1970–1974, and was elected to the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet in 1974. She was also the Soviet representative to the UN Conference for the International Women’s Year in Mexico City in 1975. She also led the Soviet delegation to the World Conference on Women in Copenhagen and played a critical role in shaping the socialist women’s global agenda for peace. She attained the rank of deputy to the Supreme Soviet, membership of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Central Committee, Vice President of the International Woman’s Democratic Federation and President of the Soviet-Algerian Friendship Society. She was decorated with the Hero of the Soviet Union medal, the USSR’s highest award. She was also awarded the Order of Lenin, Order of the October Revolution, numerous other medals, and foreign orders including the Karl Marx Order, United Nations Gold Medal of Peace and the Simba International Women’s Movement Award. She was also bestowed a title of the Hero of Socialist Labor of Czechoslovakia, Hero of Labor of Vietnam, and Hero of Mongolia. In 1990 she received an honorary doctorate from the University of Edinburgh. Tereshkova crater on the far side of the Moon was named after her.Valentina Tereshkova became the first and still remains to be the only female general officer in both Soviet and Russian armed forces.A full list of Tereshkova’s insane number of awards and medals can be found here.
Some Landing Place Markers
When Soyuz TMA-05M landed this past week, a landing marker was put in, which I had never seen before. So I did a bit of investigating. I wasn’t able to find many like the Soyuz TMA-05M one, most of the markers are permanent statues.
Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova is a retired Soviet cosmonaut, and was the first woman in space. She was selected out of more than four hundred applicants, and then out of five finalists, to pilot Vostok 6 on the 16 June 1963, becoming both the first woman and the first civilian to fly in space, as she was only honorarily inducted into the Soviet Air Force as a condition on joining the Cosmonaut Corps. During her three-day mission, she performed various tests on herself to collect data on the female body’s reaction to spaceflight. Before being recruited as a cosmonaut, Tereshkova was a textile factory assembly worker and an amateur parachutist.
Whenever the Soviets beat us to a milestone in space, it caused a moral-scientific panic in the United States. They got a satellite up there first in 1957, sparking “Sputnik Mania.” Their space program was the first to put a man in space in 1961, sending the American effort to redouble its efforts. “We look back now [at Gagarin’s flight] and say, ‘Oh, that was just a small incident,’ but in those days there were serious writings about the future of communism around the world, whether it was going to be a dominant factor,” astronaut John Glenn recalled. “We took this very seriously — the administration, President Kennedy and President Eisenhower after he came around to believe in the importance of it. At the time, we looked at this as representing our country in the Cold War.”
So, one might have expected great movement when Valentina Tereshkova left the Earth’s atmosphere on June 16, 1963 to become the first woman in space. After all, Tereshkova spent three days in space, completed 48 orbits around Earth, and logged more time in orbit than all the Americans (three) who had been in space to that point. She’d proven that a woman was physically capable of withstanding the rigors of spaceflight. Surely, the Americans would rush to get a woman into space! Rosie the Riveter, perhaps, dusting herself off after her stint as a factory laborer in the successful war effort?
But no, there was no Tereshkova moment. In fact, one NASA official who declined to give his name to a reporter, said it made him “sick to his stomach” to think of women in space. Another called Tereshkova’s flight “a publicity stunt.”
It would be another 20 years before Sally Ride, who died yesterday at the age of 61, would become the first American woman in space.
The truth is: the sexism of the day overwhelmed the science of the day.
Read more. [Image: NASA]
Cosmonauts of the first two manned programs, Vostok and Voskhod. Top row, l to r: Alexei Leonov, Gherman Titov, Valery Bykovsky, Boris Yegorov, Pavel Popovich. Bottom row: Vladimir Komarov, Yuri Gagarin, Valentina Tereshkova, Andriyan Nikolayev, Konstantin Feoktistov, Pavel Belyayev. (1965)
Today, June 16, The Shenzhou-9 spacecraft had a successful lift off, bringing the first Chinese female astronaut into space. Liu Yang became the 56th woman in space exactly 49 years after the first women, Valentina Tereshkova was launched in the Vostok-6.
My congratulations to China and a big Hurray for 49 years of women in space.