June 16, 1963, Valentina Tereškova is the first woman in Space

June 16, 1963, Baikonur Cosmodrome. The rocket carrying Russian cosmonaut Valentina Tereškova takes off and reaches Earth’s orbit.

History is made.

As it had happened two years earlier, on April 12, 1961, with the cosmonaut Jurij Gagarin, with the first orbital flight completed by a human being, Russia made its voice heard loud and clear.

Women’s Soviet propaganda

Here is the real Miss Universe “, we read in the newspapers the next day. And not only in the motherland, but all over the world. 26-year-old Tereškova was celebrated as the new icon of women’s conquests, as she watched our planet from the Vostok spacecraft (Russian for “East”), 200 kilometers away from the earth’s surface.

Valentina Tereškova was born in 1937 near the city of Yaroslavl, on the Volga River. The passion for flying and parachuting in her blood, since she was a child.

When he learned that they were looking for women to be recruited for space missions, he had no doubts and set out for the selection.

It was 1962 when she was chosen among a thousand candidates.

Codename “gabbianella”

The flight of June 16, 1963 presented an unexpected event.

The spacecraft was moving away from the calculated trajectory, as Tereškova herself recounted.

But she was prepared and began a dense exchange of data with the control center that allowed her to solve the problem.

The flight of the “seagull” – as Soviet rocket designer Sergej Korole called it, thus giving the mission the code name for radio communications – continued smoothly.

The problems on board and the return to Earth

Her mission aboard the Vostok 6 lasted 3 days and was not easy: she was tied to the seat with the whole and the helmet on for 70 hours and 50 minutes, during which she suffered from joint pain, nausea and vomiting.

Upon returning, she was literally “shot” out of the capsule (which was not designed to ensure the survival of the crew during the landing) and landed with the help of a parachute.

It was June 19, after 48 laps around the Earth, again in the Kazakh steppe.

The first person Tereškova met was an elderly lady dressed in black. He had seen a huge parachute descend from afar and then, together with the rescue teams, he approached and, seeing her in the orange diving suit, shouted “Release her, don’t you see she’s all locked up there …”. Then, when she realized that she was from Space, he asked her: “Have you met God?”.

The stop to female missions

Precisely because of the problems that Tereškova had had to face on board, the Russian space agency decided to stop the female missions.

19 years had to pass before another Russian cosmonaut, Svetlana Savitskaya, was sent into orbit in 1982. Svetlana completed three missions and during the second of them, called Salyut T-12, in 1984, she was the first woman to carry out an extravehicular activity lasting 3 hours and 35 minutes, resulting in another primacy for the Russians.

Universal symbol of feminism

After the mission, Valentina Tereškova became a symbol of feminism and also devoted herself to politics.

«I would also leave tomorrow for Mars – she confessed – It is a planet that I have been studying for some time and I think it is important to explore it with human missions. It is a fascinating place. Even if basically any astronaut, I am sure, has nostalgia and the desire to return to Earth, our real home and the only corner of the Solar System where it is possible to live ».

NERD It’s not for women and Space

Next Friday in the new episode of NERD It’s not stuff for women, we will talk about Space with Chiara Chiesa, one of the 35 mentors of NASA, International PR and Space Technology Transfer Commercialization advisor, Lead for Brescia at NASA International Space Apps Challenge, who will explain us how much space is important in the careers of the future of women.