Monday, March 4, 2024

June 13, 63, Tereskova is the first woman to go into space: 70 years ago the flight of “The Seagull”

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On June 16, 1963, “Miss Universe” became a fatherless and humble “commoner” worker. This was the nickname many newspapers around the world used for Valentina Vladimirovna Tereskova, the first woman in space, upon her return after nearly three days in space. Cajka, “Seagull”, was instead a codename while there, for an experience that changed her life and made her a Soviet heroine, but in the making was half a disaster. But this became known only later. Putin also celebrated her, as she continues to support the country, the president, and the conquest of Ukraine.

Before becoming “Seagull”, Valentina Tereškova was a worker in a textile company with a passion for aviation. Her father was a tank driver who died in World War II when Valentina was only two years old. Despite the unstable economic conditions, she was able to graduate and complete her studies by correspondence while working for a textile company. I also started skydiving. This was the first requirement that opened the gates of heaven for her when, in 1961, she wrote a letter to the Space Center to volunteer as an astronaut. Enthusiasm and pride illuminated the Soviet Union for Gagarin’s primacy and after the second flight, that of German Titov. Little did she know that Soviet officials were considering putting together a women’s team, to launch the first woman into space and defeat the Americans again.

The day of human flights in space, from Jurij Gagarin onwards

by Matteo Marino

She was called to Moscow for the tests, in 1962, after being selected from hundreds of candidates, along with four others who had minimum requirements: experience as a paratrooper; were under the age of thirty; They were unmarried. She was less than 170 cm tall and weighed less than 70 kg. All in good health, and with a firm socialist faith. Tereshkova was the secretary of the local branch of the Komsomol, the League of Young Communists.

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The perfect Soviet heroine

Apparently, choosing just one name among the five candidates was not a peaceful choice. What most likely weighed in was Tereškova’s social background, her humble origins, the fact that she was an orphan of a war hero, all the important requirements, especially at the level of communication, which also overshadowed the readiness. From the diaries of the programme’s head, Nikolay Kamanin, a high appreciation emerges for Tereskova, for her strong, decisive but sociable personality. I respect, for example, one of his reserves, Valentina Ponomareva, a middle-class woman.conceited selfishAlthough she also enjoyed Gagarin’s support, her critics, including her disqualified colleagues, say her recent engagement to Andriyan Nikolayev, the third astronaut to reach space, also had something to do with it. In addition to harboring strong resentment at A poorly trained commoner who would have achieved a glory reserved for a few. Above all, for a few, given that it was just an idea, it would be an exclusive race.

But she was the ideal heroine of Soviet propaganda, and Khrushchev may have also led the selection. And so on June 16, 1963, he boarded what would be the last liftoff of the Vostok capsule. It was a joint mission. Two days ago, Valery Bykovsky departed on Vostok 5, and Valentina Tereskova’s Vostok 6 joined him in orbit at a distance of a few kilometers, and the two also managed to communicate by radio. But for Gabbiano it was a turbulent experience. As she later told herself, strapped to her seat for more than 70 hours, always with a helmet on, she suffered from space sickness (which happens to about half of the people who land in orbit), she vomited, slept deeply, and stopped answering. the radio. problems that It cannot be revealed openly in radio conversationsBecause, probably, the whole world was listening.

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His mission was extended to nearly three days to remedy the capsule’s misorientation, which was noticed by the same astronaut who had evidently not been poorly trained. But even the story of those 70 hours is controversial. In the Soviet Union in the 1960s it’s hard to get the message across that your bosses made a mistake. Kamanen continued to defend her against officials who wanted to discredit her, even publicly. Emphasizing, for example, such aspects as re-entry, during which, having deployed the parachutes, she opened her helmet to look better towards the ground (which she had been ordered not to do) and injured her face.

The return of the seagull

She distributed food left in the shuttle to the spectators who surrounded her a few minutes after landing, ruining a bodyweight experiment that was supposed to calculate calories eaten based on remaining servings. Because of her swollen and bruised face, she had to be treated in hospital and returned to the landing site for a photo op days later, prepared to hide the marks. But all this was happening while on the other side of the world the women of Mercury 13, who had for a while cherished the idea of ​​being able to undergo training and fly into space, were standing by and watching. The first American to “break through” the atmosphere will be Sally Ride, only in 1983, on the space shuttle, two decades later. But after the flight of the Seagull, the aspiring Soviet cosmonauts fared no better. The poor performance of the Vostok 6 mission led to the termination of the women’s programme. Almost two decades passed before another woman set foot in orbit: Svetlana Savitskaya, who also became the first woman to fly on a space station (Salyut), the first woman to make a spacewalk and the first to fly in space twice.

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The day of human flights in space, from Jurij Gagarin onwards

by Matteo Marino

But honor and glory were above all else for Cajka. It was erected as an idol of the Soviet Union, a title Russia still recognizes to this day, and it’s 86 years old. And she reciprocates. Tereshkova is actually a member of the State Duma for President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party. And in support of the president, she is also an outspoken supporter of the invasion of Ukraine, to the point of being under international sanctions. It is the amendment to the constitution that, after the 2020 referendum, “set back” the clock to allow Putin to remain in power, hypothetically, until 2036.

Wynne Dinwiddie
Wynne Dinwiddie
"Infuriatingly humble alcohol fanatic. Unapologetic beer practitioner. Analyst."
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