Valentina Tereshkova Celebrates 85th Birthday

Valentina Tereshkova Celebrates 85th Birthday


On March 6, the world's first woman in space Valentina Tereshkova turned 85 years old. She spent almost three days in space, from June 16 to 19, 1963, and orbited the Earth 48 times on board the Vostok-6 spaceship. Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated Valentina Tereshkova on her jubilee.

Valentina Tereshkova was born in the small village of Maslennikovo in the Yaroslavl region on March 6, 1937. Her father, Vladimir Tereshkov, was a tractor driver who died in 1940 during the Finnish Winter War. Her mother, Elena, worked on the collective farm. In the summer of 1945, their family of three children moved to Yaroslavl.

It was there that Valentina Tereshkova completed 7 grades of secondary school, and then continued her studies at the evening school for working youth and at the Yaroslavl correspondence technical school of light industry, from which she graduated in 1960. She began her career early, in 1954, at the tire plant in Yaroslavl, and from 1955 began to work at the Yaroslavl-based Krasny Perekop textile mill.

It happened that the sky called Tereshkova when she was young. Probably, it was destined by fate. She joined the Yaroslavl Aero Club as a parachute skydiver and made 163 jumps.

Tereshkova's way to space was not easy. The selection to the group of astronauts was very thorough, because there were more than a thousand applicants. The initial selection had only five people, and among them was Valentina Tereshkova, although according to the results of tests she was slightly inferior to other candidates for this unique, first in the world flight. According to Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Valentina Ponomareva, who was among this group, later wrote in her book that before the launch they were interviewed by the first head of the Cosmonaut Training Center Evgeny Karpov. It was he who then told each of them that the first spacewoman should be ‘a person of the people’ and be able to do active social work well.

The flight itself was quite difficult for Valentina Tereshkova. As the media reported, Colonel General Nikolai Kamanin, who was then responsible for the training of cosmonauts and made notes in his diary, said, that on the second day of the flight it was visible that Tereshkova was tired but did not want to admit it. At the end of the flight she didn't answer the phone at all. Kamanin turned on the TV camera and found her sleeping. They woke her up and talked to her.

Only after the end of the flight Tereshkova admitted that she had felt pain in her right shin, her helmet had chafed and she had had problems with nutrition. She later said that while in space she “wanted rye bread, potatoes and onions.” There were also technical difficulties in orbit. As Kamanin later recalled, there was the risk of a manual landing and if the cosmonaut “could not control the ship, it would not get out of orbit.” At the same time, Kamanin, as Rossiyskaya Gazeta reported, noted the confident behavior of Tereshkova, who was able in the morning, on the 45th turn, to “control the vehicle.”

As it turned out later, the spacecraft's automatic program malfunctioned, but the cosmonaut's communication with Sergei Korolev and Yuri Gagarin, who monitored the flight in the Mission Control Center, helped to solve the problem. The landing in the Altai territory was not easy either, when Chayka [a Russian terrestrial radio navigation system] was silent during the landing, and then experts admitted that there were ... “many mistakes in the work of the communication services.” Tereshkova's parachute opened four kilometers from the surface, the wind blew her toward the lake, but she managed to correct her flight path and landed on dry land.

At the same time, Vostok 5 with Valery Bykovsky on board was in orbit. These two spacecraft performed a group flight. Many on Earth worried about Tereshkova. The fact that she said nothing about her flight at home talks a lot about her modesty. Her relatives learned about it from the radio reports. Tereshkova simply informed them that she was going to jump with a parachute.

Hero of the Soviet Union Valentina Tereshkova has been actively engaged in state and public activities since 1966. From 1968 to 1987, she was the head of the Committee of Soviet Women. Now, she is a deputy of the State Duma.

Her call sign in this flight was Chaika, later commemorated as the name of an asteroid, 1671 Chaika. A crater on the moon and an oasis in Antarctica, which is located on the Prince Olaf Coast, are also named after Tereshkova. It is very symbolic that the name of our Chaika [Russian: Чайка, lit. 'Seagull',] our Valentina Tereshkova, will remain in space and will live on Earth.

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