To Infinity and Then a Rough Trip Home

One of the coolest moments of my life occurred while I was touring Звёздный городо́к, otherwise known as ‘Star City’, the home of the Russian space program. As I stepped off the bus, I noticed a women walking towards the group I was with surrounded by what looked like a few body guards. This lady turned out to be Valentina Tereshkova, the first female to travel to space. The date was June 16, 2013 and it was the 50th anniversary of her historic flight into space. Even though she did not have time to stop and talk to us, I can still say I met the first woman in space.

Valentina Tereshkova in her military uniform

On June 16, 1963, Valentina launched in the Vostok 6 for what would turn into a three day space flight. This individual flight ended up being longer than all other the U.S. space flights until that point. There was also some mystery and cover ups surrounding the flight. The true story of the flight not being released until 2007. The information that came out following the flight was that Valentina performed poorly during the flight, had emotional problems as well as physical problems. All of these claims were used to cover up the fact that there were technical problems with the reentry system that if no fixed, would have resulted in Valentina’s death. It was all due to Valentina’s intelligence that the reentry was completed successfully. The problems did not end there, though. She was exhausted after the three days in space and when the parachute opened to slow her decent she realized that she was descending towards a huge lake. She would have been in serious trouble if she had landed in the lake, but luckily for her, the wind blew her over the land. With that, the three day journey of the first women in space was complete and Valentina Tereshkova was home safe and sound.

 

Sources:

http://www.astronautix.com/astros/terhkova.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valentina_Tereshkova

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_City,_Russia

7 thoughts on “To Infinity and Then a Rough Trip Home”

  1. Pretty neat that you got to see her in person! Next time, be sure to add some primary sources to enhance your post. The Current Digest has a neat interview between Khrushchev and Valentina, where he expresses how proud he is of her accomplishments (http://dlib.eastview.com/browse/doc/13787020). I thought it was interesting how she immediately thanks the Soviet people and states she will do whatever it takes to fulfill the Soviet mission while in space.

  2. I really like that you chose to write about Valentina since you got the chance to see her in person. I find it interesting that she kept quiet about what actually happened on the flight, even though she should have been credited to save it.

  3. That is amazing that you got to meet Valentina Tereshkova in person! It is very interesting that the Soviet Union was trying to keep the technical issues that went wrong on the flight under wraps. It seems that the Soviet Union did not want to release the information that they had trouble with this flight, for they highly advocated their successes and how far ahead of the U.S they were. The Soviet Union may not have wanted to give the U.S. the satisfaction that they had trouble with the space flight.

    1. Very cool experience. From what I have read about this subject, it seems like embarrassment about troubles with a flight were not a huge worry for the Russians. This website claims that, “Evidently they [the Soviet Air force] thought she should have accepted death from the incorrect spacecraft orientation rather than embarrass any managers on the ground.” It seems like they would have just blamed a failed space flight on her if she had died during the flight.

  4. Great job pulling off of personal experience! I wonder how typical it was for the government to blame technology failures on the people who were in charge?

  5. That is so awesome that you got to meet her! I’m not surprised Russia had the first woman in space considering their women’s rights and role in society was more advanced than the rest of the world and at an earlier point in time. I wonder why they tried to cover up the technology problems, was it maybe because they had previously targeted NASA for apparently having technological problems or maybe because they didn’t want a woman to have the superiority of being the reason the ship survived?

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