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During the space race, Russia and the U. After putting a man in space, the obvious next step was to launch a woman into space.
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Inspired by Gagarin's flight, Tereshkova wrote to the Soviet authorities volunteering for any future training program for female cosmonauts. Tereshkova emerged as a prime candidate to make the first spaceflight, although the reasons offered for her selection differ—by some accounts, she was chosen because her family represented workers or because her father was a war hero, although her skydiving skills no doubt played a role.
So did the fact that she wasn't menstruating—women were forbidden from flying while they had their periods. She performed a series of biological experiments on plants and animals on board; took photos, film, and notes; and monitored various devices tracking both her body and the spacecraft. She also successfully steered the spaceship to orbit the Earth instead of travel away from it, which the capsule was initially doing until Tereshkova figured her way around the glitch.
Follow RT on. Russia is celebrating the 55th anniversary of Valentina Tereshkova becoming the first woman in space.
The First Woman in Space: Valentina Tereshkova
To this day, she remains the only female ever to have embarked on a solo space mission. Valentina Tereshkova receives an award from Vladimir Putin in May Media News. Promoting diversity?
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We are somewhere deep and indeterminate within the cavernous Science Museum in London, and Tereshkova had arrived, as dignitaries tend to do, suddenly, and with a flurry of suited escorts. I had seen her so often, in photographs, in film, and from a distance in person — that she seemed entirely familiar, from her tailored suit to the medal she wears, red banner with gold star, denoting her status as a Hero of the Soviet Union, then the highest state award.
The reason for her celebrity is almost as hard to believe now as the parachuting. Over 50 years ago, in , Tereshkova became the first woman to go into space, and it was her parachuting experience that qualified her for selection. She was only 26 when she made her one and only space flight, but that feat has defined the rest of her life.
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It propelled her into the upper reaches of the Soviet elite, and gave her security for life. That elevation though came at a life-long cost: Public speaking, accepting honours, roving the world as a citizen-diplomat, being a very visible part of Soviet, and now Russian, public life, are roles that she continues to fulfil to this day. It is one of a series of UK-Russia collaborations, following the hugely successful Russian space exhibition at the museum last year.
Has she honestly enjoyed this life lived so much in the public eye?
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Aware of the current chill in the international climate, Tereshkova sees herself, not for the first time with a responsibility to help improve things through public diplomacy. In the UK, she might be surprised to discover how relatively few now know her name. The global impact of her flight, with the near-universal recognition that followed, has faded over the years, though not in Russia , and not for me, as a child of that era.
Unsmiling and austere, sometimes in military uniform, Tereshkova is a fixture in my memory as she remains for many Russians.