Inspirational Stories

First Woman to Walk-in Space: Svetlana Yevgenyevna Savitskaya [Inspirational Lifetime Story]

Walking in uncharted land is a daring thing to do and astronomy being a male-dominated industry it was rare for a woman having the audacity to join it; was unheard of. On the contrary, men would join and be treated equally. But in spite of all these odds, Svetlana Savitskaya persevered and became the first woman to walk in space. Being an extravehicular activity she did what many men would not be able to do. This is clearly depicted in the following essay.

Valentina Tereshkova was born on 6th March in 1937 to Vladimir Tereshkova and Elena Fyodorovna Tereshkova in Bolshoye Maslennikovo in a village on the Volga River 270 Kilometres (170 mi) northeast of Moscow and part of the Yaroslavl Oblast in central Russia.

Vladimir Tereshkova, her dad was a farm tractor personal and a sergeant in the command of a tank in the soviet army who migrated from Belarus. He died during World War II when her daughter was two years old in the Finnish hunter war. After the death of her parents, she moved to Yaroslavl with her siblings moved for better employment, which she had at Krasny Perekop cotton mill. Later, she began working at a tire factory and later at a textile mill.

It all Started Back in the Early Childhood with Svetlana

Challenges in life are inevitable. However, people who are resilient and strong-willed often find contentment in the face of adversity. Tereshkova at the age of 10 had her early education and graduated at the age of 17. She graduated from a light industry technological school in 1960.

As the daughter of a fighter army personal, she could easily join the army and start her career there but her passion drove her to do greater things that have resulted in the evolution and increase in mankind knowledge about the universe they live in, fighting in a chauvinistic world in order to make it and climb the ladder was not a simple task for Svetlana Savitskaya where she did not focus on her goals. She trained in skydiving at the local aero club, making her first jump at 20 years on 21st May 1959.

Being born in a male-dominated era, Svetlana Savitskaya had the privilege of joining an aviation school since her father was a decorated fighter army personal in the second world war. Svetlana has a passion to explore space and this acted as a motivating factor for her to pursue her dreams. She also started parachuting without her parent’s consent at the age of 16 years which sowed the power of spirit in her which was greater than reality. 

Another point worth noting is that despite her knowledge that she had to compete against fellow men in order to gain a spot. The director of cosmonaut training, Nikolai Kamanin, read in an American media that females were trained to be astronauts. He disapproved of the idea of the first female been an American so to increase the chance of a soviet woman, the women trained ahead of the men. Tereshkova went through various training and testing after which she graduated from Zkukovsky air force engineering Academy. In December 1962, all five women graduated to be junior lieutenants in the air force by Nikolai Kamanin with advice from the male cosmonauts.

Svetlana worked hard and won World Championship in July 1970. She was thereafter officially admitted to Cosmonaut Group in the year 1980 on 30th June, she succeeded and made her family proud.

Svetlana’s Space Launch Journey & Experience

To be eligible to be an astronaut, certain requirements needed to be met; the woman should be under 30 years in age, less than 170cm (5ft1in) in height, and 70 kg in weight. The screening took place after which 58 meet the requirement out of the 400 candidates who were selected by consideration by the all-union voluntary society for assistance to the Army, Air force, and navy (DOSAAF) in January 1962. The director scaled the 53 candidates to 23. Tereshkova was selected together with four others to join the female cosmonaut’s corps granted in 1963.

However, most of the women could not continue, due to illness and poor performances, Tatyana Kuznetsova and Zhanna Yorkina respectively leaving Irina Solovyova, Valentina Ponomaryova, and Tereshkova Svetlana eligible. Tereshkova was selected to pilot Vostok 6 with Solovyova as her backup on 21 May by the State Space Commission. Initially, Tereshkova was scheduled to fly Vostok 5 first followed by Ponomaryova in Vostok 6, but the plan was altered in 1963.

In an experienced and chauvinistic male humor world, Svetlana was able to gain a sit in the room and went for a short-term flight in space in December 1981. This came in as her preparation for the real and further exploration in space. The launching of Soyuz T-7 took place on August 19th, 1982, 19 years later after Valentina Tereshkova was assigned the orbital module. This was the third soviet space mission to Salyut 7 space station.

Furthermore, after her return journey took place in Soyuz T-5 in 1955, Svetlana explained encounters of sexism she had to endure while in space. This is clearly depicted as she narrates how she was told to take an apron and cook for the men’s crew. This was so since women were thought to undertake mundane roles related to housekeeping and she had to persevere against this stigma in her line of work.

Valery Bykovsky launched Vostok 5 as planned. Valentina Tereshkova earned the lieutenant’s rank before her flight and captain in her mid-flight. On 16th June 1963, Tereshkova began her preparation together with her backup Solovyova after the successful launch of Vostok 5 on 14 June. Following the tradition set by Gagarin, Tereshkova also urinated on the bus tire making her the first woman. Vostok 6 set off flawlessly two days after Vostok 5.

It made Svetlana the first woman in space, the only woman to fly to space solo, and at age 26 making her the youngest. Tereshkova call sign-in of Svetlana was Chaika in Russian (seagull). They spent three days in orbital planes apart 30 degrees apart and during Tereshkova’s first orbit approached each other within 5km (3.1mi). Even though they could communicate through radio, they hardly saw each other. Cameras were placed in the spacecraft for a live broadcast on the soviet state television.

Svetlana’s Landing back on Earth

Nevertheless, Svetlana had some physical discomfort and nausea in the course of the flight. She orbited the earth 48 times and spent 2 days, 22 hours, 50 minutes in space. Tereshkova emitted from the capsule during its descent about four miles above the earth. She made a parachute landing of 620km (385 mi) northeast of Karaganda, Kazakhstan at 8:20 am UTC on 19th June. Her mate, Bykovsky landed three hours after her. Although she landed safely, Tereshkova had a bruise on her nose and some difficulty in controlling the parachute.

Glory Days of Svetlana’s after Successful Space Mission

Tereshkova received the hero of the Soviet Union medal after the flight. She toured around the world receiving flowers about a million as published by the Russian newspaper Pravda. Women of about 2000 from 119 countries, who asked her to embark on foreign visits, hosted Tereshkova. She made about 42 visits around the globe between the years 1963 and 1970 authorized by the Presidium of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, the highest political bureau in the Soviet Union.

Career of Svetlana

Tereshkova became a national and international role model. She was a popular representative of the Soviet Union abroad, aside from that she held variously; she became a member of the world peace soviet in 1966. She was the Soviet representative to the UN conference from the international women’s year in Mexico City in 1975. She was a member of the Yaroslavl soviet in 1973. She leads the soviet delegation to the world conference on women in Copenhagen and a socialist international and women’s role in guaranteeing world peace.

The State Soviet Space Program did not want to lose another hero following Gagarin’s death. She was appointed the leader of the Committee for Soviet Women in 1968 a few months after she graduated with honor from the Zhukovsky air force engineering academy in October 1969, which was against her will because she wanted to pursue a career as a cosmonaut and engineer. The team of women cosmonauts disapproved of allowing a woman into space until Svetlana Savitskaya in 1982.

She was a member of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union (1966-1974), and also the central committee of the communist party (1969-1991), and a member of the presidium of the Supreme Soviet (1974-1989). She was the first vice president of the international Women Democratic Federation and president of the Soviet Algerian friendship Society. She had a doctorate in aeronautical engineering and undertook the medical examination to qualify for spaceflight in 1978. She continued as an instructor and never went to space.

Valentina Tereshkova continued to be politically active after the collapse of the Soviet Union. She lost the election to the national State Duma around the year 1995. In that year, she gained the rank of Major General. Valentina Tereshkova left the Russian Air force at the age of 60 in the year 1997. Valentina Tereshkova ran for the seat in the State Duma and won the regional parliament, the Yaroslavl Oblast Duma. On 18th September 2016, she was re-elected to the 7th state Duma.

Svetlana’s Husband, Marital Life and Death

Valentina Tereshkova wedded Abdriyan Nikolayev on 3rd November 1963 and got divorced in 1982. She married Yuli Shaposhnikov. Later, Valentina Tereshkova died in 1999.

In the End, We Get Inspiring Story of Determined and Career-Focused Fighter Woman

As a result of Svetlana Savitskaya’s actions, it showed that women and men were equal when it comes to working. Her actions inspired a lot of women to pursue their dreams and others to become like her. Consequently, she bravely showed that sometimes women have the guts to do things that some men would not be able to do. After her safe and sound return on 29th July 1984, she was proof that a person’s power of the spirit should be greater than everything else and this would make them fight against all odds and be able to achieve their dreams.

There are those who argue that women do not have the willpower to do important things that affect mankind but Svetlana’s action showed that women are capable as much if not more than men. John Glenn, an American astronaut, and the second person to orbit around the earth, words that if we can have women to show that they have the ability to do work done by men, then we would welcome them in open arms showed that women were perceived as incapable and house chores and taking care of the family was the only thing they would do better.

In conclusion, from Svetlana Savitskaya’s act, is clear and evident that she had strived and worked extra hard to do what a lot of men had not done before. This made it clear that men and women are equal when it comes to working hard. Giving them this chance would not make women not perform their homely duties to their families. Svetlana Savitskaya did not give up on her passion and dreams to pursue space exploration which at the end bore her fruits for she succeeded and made her family and the female gender proud.


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2.Umberto Cavallaro –Women Spacefarers: Sixty Different Paths to Space, Springer,2017 

3.” First Russian Woman in International Space Station Mission” BBC News26 September 2014. 4.Schamadel, Lutz D. (2003). Dictionary of Minor Planets Names, Volume 1. New York: Springer. 

5.” Biographies of USSR/Russian Cosmonauts”. Space Facts. 9 August 2012.

6.” A Cog in Political Machine: The Career of Svetlana Savitskaya. AmericaSpace (2012) 

7.” Nothing But The Facts About: Svetlana Savitskaya”. Brighthub. 

  1. “Space welding anniversary”. Orbiter-Forum. Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd (2009).

9.” S.P. Korolev RSC Energia-News”

10.” Почетные граждане города“.

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Zahira Bano

Zahira holds a Ph.D. in Cosmetics Surgery and Pharma. She worked with Mashable's and some other beauty, skincare, and wellness blogs. She is also a well-known researcher from Nanjing University of Science & Technology. She also writes on the female empowerment motivational topics in her leisure time.

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