The Soviet Union continued to lead the Space Race when they sent the first female Cosmonaut into space. Valentina Tereshkova was the first woman to go to space in June 1963 (“Firs Cosmonaut”). Not only had the Russians sent the first satellite into space, the first living organism, and the first man but now they had sent the first woman too!Valentina Tereshkova’s flight into space was aboard Vostok 6 (“Tereshkova”). However, who was the woman that would change the face of the space race?
She was born in 1937 and grew up in Maslennikovo, a small town in the Yaroslavl Region (“Tereshkova”). Her father went missing when she was two in the fino-russian war, leaving her mother to raise her and her brother and sister alone (“Tereshkova”). She began school at the age of eight, but dropped out at seventeen to join her mother as a worker at a local textile plant (“Tereshkova”). It was during her days at the textile plant that she became interested in flying and decided to try skydiving (“Tereshkova”). She ended up starting a skydiving club at the textile plant (“Tereshkova”). It was because of her skydiving experience that she was chosen as one of 40 women to go to Moscow to be interviewed to enter the space program (“Tereshkova”). Ultimately, she was one of five candidates selected to enter the space program (“Tereshkova”). Along with fellow female cosmonaut, Ponomaryova, Tereshkova was selected to be on the first female space mission. However, she was selected to be the first woman in space because of her loyalty to the Communist Party (“Tereshkova”).
Tereshkova knew the importance of her mission and had strived to be a great soviet since her teenage years. Khrushchev express just how important her flight was in the first telephone call made to Tereshkova in space, saying, “I am very glad and I am proud as a father would be that our girl, a girl of the Soviet land, is the first in the world to go into space and to master the most modern technology. This is a triumph of Leninist ideas, it is a triumph of the struggle of our people, and we are proud of the success and proud of you. We are proud that you are doing such a fine job of glorifying our people, our homeland, our party and our ideas” (“KREMLIN TO SPACE.-Comrade N. S. Khrushchev’s Telephone 1 Conversation With Comrade V. V. Tereshkova, the World’s First Woman Cosmonaut”). Tereshkova also recognized that the Soviet Union did something the rest of the world was not ready to do -give women the opportunity to succeed in what was considered a male field. In an interview where she was shown a book about Jerrie Cobb, written about an American woman in space, she said, “It is really too bad that the American leaders have disgraced her so. They shout on all the street corners about their democracy and at the same time announce they will not let a woman into space. This is obvious inequality” (Goltsev). That quote summarizes the Soviet’s need to put a woman is space: putting a woman in space made the Soviets look like the good guys, the ones who wanted equality for all, even women in an age where women’s rights were still being fought for in the United States.
Goltsev, American Advertising and Soviet Reality: WE HAVE DIFFERENT WINGS, JERRIE! -Valentina Tereshkova Comments: http://dlib.eastview.com/browse/doc/13787235
KREMLIN TO SPACE.-Comrade N. S. Khrushchev’s Telephone 1 Conversation With Comrade V. V. Tereshkova, the World’s First Woman Cosmonaut: http://dlib.eastview.com/browse/doc/13787020