Today, flying out to Mars with a one way ticket is all the rage. Half a century back people were only dreaming about the moon. While it was only an ambition for some, there was a lady who actually thought of circumambulation of the earth and did it.
Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova was a Russian cosmonaut and politician. We remember her today because of the unique tryst with space which made her the first woman to have flown in space. Today is the 53rd anniversary of her first flight aboard the Vostok 6 on 16 June 1963.
Not bragging, but here are a few quick facts about this exemplary woman:
1. She was a parachuting enthusiast who learnt skydiving and made her first jump at age 22. This was the founding stone of her selection as a cosmonaut.
2. At the age of 34 she was chosen to be the secretary of the local Komsomol (Young Communist League) and later joined the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
3. After Yuri Gagarin’s first flight in 1961 she was selected to join the female cosmonaut corps on 16 February 1962 at the behest of Sergey Korolyov, the chief Soviet rocket engineer who aspired to then put a woman in space.
4. After being selected from amongst 400 other competitors became one of the five finalists who were meant to be part of the Vostok 6 program.
5. On the morning of 16 June 1963, the Vostok 6 was launched successfully and with it Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova went on to become the first woman to go into space.
6. Inspite of a little nausea and some physical discomfort, she orbited the earth 48 times and spent almost three days in space.
7. This single flight helped her clock more hours in space than the combined times of all American astronauts who had flown before that date.
8. In spite of vigorous planning to put the next woman in space, it took the Russians 19 years before the second woman Svetlana Savitskaya, flew into space.
9. She was awarded numerous times and received recognition for her work in the field of cosmonautics and politics. In an interview Valentina expressed a desire to go to Mars.
In 2015 a short film entitled ‘Valentina’s Dream’ was released by Meat Bingo Productions starring Rebecca Front.
16 June 2016