Biographies

Valentina Tereshkova, the first cosmonaut

Valentina Tereshkova, the first cosmonaut

Valentina Tereshkova has the honor of being the first woman to travel to space. This milestone took place on June 16, 1963 aboard Vostok-6.

Valentina Vladimírovna Tereshkova was born on March 6, 1937 in Maslennikovo, a small Russian town. His family was a farmer and very humble.

Valentina's childhood was hard. At the age of three, she lost her father in the Russo-Finnish War by staying alone with her sister and mother, who was 27 years old and pregnant. The three moved to the city of Yaroslav in 1945. Valentina was not the school until the age of 8. Then he combined work in the textile industry with his studies in Industrial Technical Engineering.

Since childhood I dreamed of flying. In 1959 he enrolled in a parachuting club and soon became an advanced skydiver.

In 1961 the USSR decided to put the first woman into orbit before the United States did. The selection of women cosmonauts had to be carried out in the army, but there were no female pilots, so they looked for candidates in the parachuting and aviation clubs. They should be between 18 and 30 years old, measure less than 1.70 m tall, weigh less than 70 kg and be single. No experience as a pilot was required since the Vostok ships were automatic, but they had to be good paratroopers because the ship had no device to land and would have to parachute.

Five candidates were selected who entered the army. They underwent hard physical tests and received training in science and space navigation. On May 21, 1963 it was officially announced that the selected one was Tereshkova, with Irina Soloviova as substitute. Initially, two simultaneous flights with female crew were planned, but in March 1963 the project was rejected and only one trip was approved with an astronaut aboard the Vostok 6 ship. The Vostok 5 would be manned by Valeri Bykovski.

The mission aimed to analyze the effects of space flight on the body of women and men. The night before the launch, Valentina slept in the same bed in which Gagarin had slept. The next day she would see her dream of flying fulfilled when she was little.

In this Soviet mission, Tereshkova was given the code name of Chaika (in Spanish, seagull). The flight began its journey without problems, and the cosmonaut performed all the initial operations correctly.

While already in orbit, and due to a system failure, Tereshkova was unable to orient the ship correctly. Therefore, he was not allowed to take manual control of the ship at the time of landing.

Despite this incident, the three-day space travel of the Vostok-6 spacecraft was considered a success. Tereshkova experienced vomiting and other discomforts, but could endure without problems for 48 laps around the Earth. During that time he updated the logbook and took the photographs of the horizon that would later help to discover atmospheric aerosols.

Despite the resounding success of Valentina Tereshkova's space mission, there have been only two other Russian cosmonaut women: Svetlana Savítskaya, who did a spacewalk, and Elena Kondakova, who remained in orbit for 169 days.

After her historic flight, Tereshkova graduated in space engineering in 1969. She worked as a cosmonaut instructor for almost 30 years. He subsequently held several political positions in his country.

Since 1997, after retiring from the Air Force, she works as chief scientific collaborator at the Cosmonaut Preparation Center. Tereshkova has manifested her desire to fly to Mars, the planet that fascinates her the most.

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