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'It is I, Seagull! Everything is fine. I see the horizon.'
June 15, 2005 9:06 PM   Subscribe

On June 16, 1963, at the height of the US-Soviet Space Race, Cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space. Her flight aboard the Vostok 6 lasted 48 orbits and 71 hours, and during her flight she spent more time in space than all the U.S. astronauts combined to that date. Although NASA trained women astronauts in the 60's, it would take 20 years for an American woman to follow in Tereshkova's footsteps.
posted by anastasiav (18 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Can we get a quote from Chekov?
posted by longsleeves at 9:18 PM on June 15, 2005


http://www.walterkoenig.com/
posted by longsleeves at 9:23 PM on June 15, 2005


She should be better known - as should more cosmonauts in general, now that its more ok to acknowledge their achievement in the history of mankind, not as part of some political race.

She is still around, by the way. Here is a picture of her from 2002.
posted by vacapinta at 9:28 PM on June 15, 2005


Let's not forget Svetlana Savitskaya, who became the second woman in space in 1982 (photos).
posted by gubo at 9:38 PM on June 15, 2005


Aren't you forgetting someone?
posted by spock at 11:58 PM on June 15, 2005


No, I think you're forgetting someone else?

At any rate...
"Not tonight, Checkov, I have an ear-ache."
posted by id at 1:37 AM on June 16, 2005


So it took almost 20 years between the 1st and 2nd woman in space. Sounds like the Russians were just trying to think of firsts they could get, not that they were more enlightened or anything.
posted by smackfu at 6:08 AM on June 16, 2005


Thanks for this post, anastasiav; it's good to remember the pioneers. And I'm glad to know Ms Tereshkova is still around; it turns out she's the head of the Russian Center for International Scientific and Cultural Cooperation.

One Star Trek joke per spaceflight thread, please.
posted by languagehat at 6:53 AM on June 16, 2005


it would take 20 years for an American woman to follow in Tereshkova's footsteps.

hey, footsteps are pretty hard to find in space
posted by pyramid termite at 1:20 PM on June 16, 2005


I just picked up 2 books from the library on the women astronauts-in-training, one called "Mercury 13" and the other "Promised the Moon." Haven't started to read them yet, but it's something I had never heard of. Apparantly they passed the same battery of physical and psychological tests as the male astronauts did, but were canned for entierly exist reasons.
posted by Snyder at 1:21 PM on June 16, 2005


exist=sexist
posted by Snyder at 1:21 PM on June 16, 2005


I think we're all used to the: we win = we played pretty hard out there today vs they win = we didn't play hard enough out there today, sportscast-style commentary.

Can anyone offhand say (me being too young) how the west responded to Sputnik? Was it "a dark day"? Did it "bode ill for the future of mankind"?

I'm sure there was no recognition of the achievement, or was there? Just curious.
posted by dreamsign at 3:11 PM on June 16, 2005


I'm reading "Two Sides of the Moon" by David Scott (a Gemini and Apollo astronaut, 7th person to walk on the moon,) and Alexi Leonov (original Soviet cosmonaut, and first person to walk in space,) and I just finished reading the part where Scott talks about Sputnik I. Scott's viewed it in military terms, since, at the time, he wasn't overly interested in space travel, and was serving in the 32nd Fighter Squadron in holland at the time. He says there was a serious level of national angst at this, especially since the U.S. rockets were doing so poorly, always blowing up, even after the Sputnik launch, with headlines like "Flopnik!" and "Kaputnik!" in U.S. papers after every failed launch. I get the impression that this was based on more of a sense of "They can do it, why can't we? Everything we try seems to fail," that it was angst over technical inability to get something into space, less than a fear of Soviet military might. (Although I do know that was a part of it.)

In any event, for both Scott, and the public back home, there was a serious level of psychological anxiety about it, one or another.

My mom told that my grandfather, Sigmund Rappaort, a mathematician, was very pleased about hearing about the launch, veiwing it as a stupendous scientific event. I imagine he wasn't the only one, but I also imagine his was not the national tenor.
posted by Snyder at 5:12 PM on June 16, 2005


Can anyone offhand say (me being too young) how the west responded to Sputnik? Was it "a dark day"? Did it "bode ill for the future of mankind"? I'm sure there was no recognition of the achievement, or was there? Just curious.

I was just a kid, but I remember it well; in my memory it was a mix of excitement and worry. Sure there was recognition of the achievement, but there was also a tremendous sense that we'd better start catching up pronto. And everybody wanted to hear the beeps. You can read about the reactions (and even hear the beeps) here.
posted by languagehat at 5:31 PM on June 16, 2005


snyder, check out the NASA trained women astronauts link in the post, which is a site about the Mercury 13.
posted by anastasiav at 7:45 PM on June 16, 2005


Oh I did anastasiav, that's why I mentioned the books in my post. :)
posted by Snyder at 2:29 AM on June 17, 2005


well, here is another interesting page - http://userpages.aug.com/captbarb/astronauts.html - with some facts about the Mercury 13 women. for example, Jerrie Cobb had over 10 000 flight hours as a pilot, while John Glenn had only 5 000. overall, the women selected did better on the tests than the men, and it would have cost less money to send them into space. there's actually a book on the topic - "The Mercury 13" by Martha Ackerman.

a few years ago, i was very disappointed to learn that John Glenn actively campaigned against women astronauts and once held the view the only men should fly in space. in 1963, when testifying before Congress during hearings to see if women were being discriminated against by NASA, he stated: "the fact that women are not in this field is a fact of our social order." and knowing that many of the women were better qualified than him, and that they'd also done better on the tests than him, he also said: “We would welcome women aboard with open arms if they demonstrated greater capabilities for flight than men.” his were the nicest quotes from that.

perhaps he did change his mind with the times, but when he flew again in space in 1998, as a senior citizen, he actually displace Jerrie Cobb - again. he could have stood aside and let her go, but he chose not too. if he had, it would have been an excellent demonstration of personal integrity. his accomplishments are amazing in themselves, but they are a bit tarnished for me now.

speaking of Jerrie Cobb, here's her page - http://www.jerrie-cobb.org - and of course, there's a book about her, linked at her site - "Jerrie Cobb, Solo Pilot". she was also nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1981.
posted by TrinityB5 at 7:19 PM on June 19, 2005


hm, i've since found a more complete John Glenn quote for the one i referenced above: "I think this gets back to the way our social order is organized....It is just a fact. The men go off and fight the wars and fly the airplanes and come back and help design and build and test them. The fact that women are not in this field is a fact of our social order," - http://www3.uakron.edu/schlcomm/womenshistory/hixson_j.htm
posted by TrinityB5 at 7:24 PM on June 19, 2005


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