Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova is the first woman and the youngest astronaut to ever fly into space. She had a solo mission on June 16, 1963, riding the Vostok 6 (a spacecraft).
Valentina orbited Earth 48 times and completed her mission after spending almost three days in space. She was able to accomplish this at the young age of 26. Because of this, she is considered to be the only woman who had been on a solo space mission.
Five Facts About Valentina Tereshkova
Valentina’s humble beginnings included her working as a textile factory worker. She was born to a poor family, and she started working at an early age.
Valentina had no formal pilot training. However, she is passionate about skydiving, which was rare, especially for women during those times. This caught the attention of the Soviet Space Program. In the 1960s, they wanted to send a woman in space ahead of the United States.
She was an amateur skydiver. She made her first parachute jump at the age of 22 and has been an enthusiast ever since.
At 24 years old, she volunteered and got accepted for the cosmonaut program, among 400 others who also applied.
Valentina is known for three things in her lifetime; as a pilot, cosmonaut, and politician.
Inspirational Quotes from Valentina Tereshkova
“If women can be railroad workers in Russia, why can’t they fly in space?
“Don’t stand on the sidelines of life, get in there and get involved.”
“I believe that a woman should always remain a woman and nothing feminine should be alien to her. At the same time, I strongly feel that no work done by a woman in the field of science or culture or whatever, however vigorous or demanding, can enter into conflict with her ancient ‘wonderful mission’ --to love, to be loved --and with her craving for the bliss of motherhood.”
“It doesn’t matter what country or what political system you are from. Space brings you together.”
“A bird cannot fly with one wing only. Human space flight cannot develop any further without the active participation of women.”
Valentina Tereshkova Biography
Valentina Tereshkova was born on March 6, 1937, in the Yaroslavl Region of Russia. The second of three children, she began school at the age of eight. Her father worked as a tractor driver while her mother was a worker in a textile plant.
At the age of sixteen, she left school and began working. Her interest in parachute jumping also started at an early age.
She did not have any sort of training, but she would skydive at a local flying club. She trained every weekend and had more than 90 jumps in her record. This enabled her to gain expertise and be considered an accomplished parachutist.
Husband and Children
Valentina Tereshkova had two marriages. The first one was in 1963 with Andriyan Nikolayev, also a cosmonaut. The said marriage was suggested by Soviet space authorities because it would have benefited science and politics.
It was deemed as a “fairy tale message to the country.” They had a child nearly one year after Valentina flew into space, Elena Andriyanovna, the first person born to parents who both have traveled into space. Valentina and Andriyan were together for 14 years but later divorced in 1982.
Valentina then married Yuli Shaposhnikov. She met him during her medical examinations for cosmonaut qualification. They remained married for 17 years until Shaposhnikov’s death in 1999.
Legacy and Mission
Valentina Tereshkova made her mark in history as the “First Woman in Space.” Her mission in space was known as “The Flight of the Seagull,” with her radio call sign being “Chaika” or seagull. Unfortunately, she has participated in only one flight to date.
However, at that time, she logged more hours than other US astronauts combined who have also flown in space. Still, Valentina never flew in space again. However, this did not stop her from making a difference in people’s lives.
She later became a spokesperson for the Soviet Union while being an aerospace engineer in the space program.
She was a member of the World Peace Council in 1966 and was a Soviet representative to various international conferences on several causes. She also had active political participation and was chosen for different positions.
As a child, she wanted to pursue a career in science. However, she has seen the potential to do so much more. Because of this, the Soviet space program appointed her as the leader of the Committee for Soviet Women.
In 1970, she shared her views on women and science through an article, “Women in Space,” for the American journal, Impact of Science on Society.
Valentina has always been politically active and has her share of defeat and triumphs. However, the list of Valentina’s achievements is astounding and has earned her so many awards and recognition.
She continues to play various roles to date, both as an inspiring native of her country and a catalyst in the world who significantly impacted women, calling them to rise and showcase their capabilities.
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