Wednesday, 17 September 2014

WISE: Valentina Tereshkova

Valentina Vladimirnova Tereshkova was born in Russia in 1937. Her father was a tractor driver whilst her mother worked in a textile plant. Her father had passed away during World War Two, which left her mother to raise three children by herself.Tereshkova, herself, began school when she was eight years old. At the age of sixteen she left school but continued her education through correspondence courses. 

From a young age she had an interest in parachuting and later on she trained in skydiving, making her first jump at the age of 22. At the time, Tereshkov had been working as a textile worker in a local factory. 

In 1961, Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space and after that Tereshkov volunteered for the Soviet Space Programme. She didn't have any experience but was accepted as she had done 126 parachute jumps at the time of her volunteering. During those days. cosmonauts had to jump out of their capsules and parachute down to Earth, moments before landing.

There were more than four hundred applicants who had volunteered and in the end, only five of them were picked. They had to be parachutists under the age of 30, their height had to be under 170 cm and had to weigh under 70 kg. 

Along with the four other women who had been chosen, Tereshkov undertook 18 months of training. The tests during the training included seeing how long they would react to long periods of time alone, to extreme gravity conditions and to zero-gravity conditions. They also undertook training in spacecraft engineering and 120 parachute jumps.

Tereshkova was to pilot Vostok 5 and it was going to be a dual mission, with Valentine Ponomaryova to follow her into orbit with Votok 6.The flight plan was then altered though. A male by the name of Valeriy Bykovsky was now to pilot Vostok 5. The State Space Commission then nominated Tereshkova to pilot Vostok 6 and was picked. 

Vostok 5 was launched on June 14th 1963 and on June 16th 1963, aged 26, Tereshkova became the first woman to go into space. She spent two days, 23 hours and 12 minutes in space. She orbited the Earth 48 times but the flight had nearly turned into a disaster. 

The spacecraft's automatic navigation software had a problem which caused the spacecraft to move away from Earth. Tereshkova had noticed this and the Soviet scientists the quickly developed a new algorithm for landing. Treshkova landed safely but with a bruise on her face. She near, what is today, the Kazakhstan-Mongolia-China border.Villagers had helped her out of her spacesuit and asked her to join them for dinner and she accepted the offer. 

Tereshkova was awarded with the title Hero of the Soviet. She also received the Order of the Lenin and the Glod Star Medal. She became a spokesperson for the Soviet Union and whilst doing this she received the United Nation Gold Medal of Peace.

She never ended up flying into space again but she later became a test pilot and instructor and earned a doctorate in technical science. On November 3rd 1963, Tereshkova married a fellow cosmonaut Andriyan Nikolayev. They had their first child 1864, who was a daughter called Elena, she later became a Medical doctor. Tereshkova and her husband divorced in 1980. 

Two years later she married Yuily Shaposhnikov, who was a surgeon. Later she became the deputy to the Supreme Soviet and then a people's deputy. She was a member of the Supreme Soviet Presidium and later become the head of the Soviet Women's Committee. As well as that, she was also the head of the International Cultural and Friendship Union and became the chairperson of the Russian Association of International Cooperation. But in 1999 her husband passed away. 

In 2008, Tereshkova became a torch-bearer in the 2008 Summer Olympics Torch Relay in Saint Petersburg, Russia. And as of 2013, she became a serving member of the Russian Parliament and deputy chairperson  of the Parliamentary Committee on International Affairs. 
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