Historymaker: Astronaut Valentina Tereshkova

Posted on June 18, 2013

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Fifty years ago, Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova became the world’s first woman in space.

She was 26 years old, from peasant stock; her father was a tractor driver who died on the frozen Finnish front in World War II, and her mother was a factory worker; Valentina herself was also a factory worker.

Ah, but a factory worker with an appetite for adrenaline, who happened to have completed 90 parachute jumps as part of a local skydiving club.  Her skydiving hobby not only demonstrated her adventurous spirit, but also weighed heavily in her favor when the Soviet Union selected a team of female astronauts to train for space flight; Soviet astronauts were required to eject from their space capsules after re-entry and parachute back to earth from high altitude.

On June 16, 1963, Tereshkova launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, flying solo aboard Vostok-6.  The flight of the Chaika (Seagull – her call sign) was under way.  She circled the Earth 48 times and racked up more hours in space than all American astronauts combined who had flown before that date.  It was an impressive achievement and a propaganda coup for the Soviet Union, but I don’t begrudge them that!  Tereshkova was and still is a remarkable individual.

Like Yuri Gagarin, the first man to orbit the Earth, Tereshkova made only one space flight, but her fame launched a long and successful career in politics, where she remains active to this day.  She is currently a representative in the Duma for the ruling United Russia Party.

The 76-year-old is also game for a one-way trip to Mars if the opportunity presents itself.  After 50 years, it seems Valentina’s spirit is as adventurous as ever!  Kudos to a remarkable woman; a remarkable person.

Credit:  RIA Novosti

Credit: RIA Novosti

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