Women have lived in the shadows of their husband’s achievements for decades. Our female ancestors fought to earn recognition and equality and rewrote history with their bravery. Women’s achievements within the astronomy and astrophysics fields cannot be pegged as anything less than an outstanding endeavor.
Born in 1963 in what was then the USSR, Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova was the first woman who rocketed into space. Can you imagine flying into space at only 26 years old? Prior to this she was working in a textile factory and had zero experience in piloting. What made her a strong candidate for earning fame among male cosmonauts? Tereshkova had quite an unusual hobby: skydiving! 126 parachute jumps in total opened the extraterrestrial door for this magnificent woman.
Tereshkova spent almost three days in orbit which was the first solo space flight piloted by a woman. Unfortunately, it was the only flight into the space that Tereshkova arranged in her life. After that, she spent the rest of her career as a trainer of male cosmonauts. As a result, Tereshkova earned the rank of an Air Force Major General.
On the other side of the globe, almost 20 years later, Sally K. Ride became a trailblazer in conquering space as the American female mission specialist. It is truly fascinating that Ride was noticed and selected from 8,000 first-rate candidates to be part of an outer space crew to conduct experiments and deploy two new communications satellites. Her third mission was canceled due to the huge tragedy of the launching accident of Challenger in 1986. Ride rocketed into space twice and rightly earned the title as the first American female cosmonaut.
The next year, after joining the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1988, Ride left NASA to teach physics at the University of California and became the director of the California Space Institute. In 2003 she was honorably inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame.
Women have more than proved their ability to be independent and equal to men. I am sure that women’s impressive contributions and successful extraterrestrial accomplishments should serve as inspiration for later generations!
2020.“Mission Monday: The first women in space”. Space Ceneter Huston (blog). June 15, 2020. https://spacecenter.org/mission-monday-the-first-women-in-space/.
Betz, Eric. 2020. “11 Female Astronauts Who Pioneered Spaceflight” Discover (blog). October 30, 2020.https://www.discovermagazine.com/the-sciences/11-female-astronauts-who-pioneered-spaceflight.
History. 2010. “Sally Ride becomes the first American woman in space”. February 9, 2010. https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/first-american-woman-in-space.
History. 2010. “Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova becomes the first woman in space” February 9, 2010.https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/first-woman-in-space.
mos.ru 2020. “Главархив Москвы – о полете первой в мире женщины-космонавта Валентины Терешковой” June 19, 2020. https://www.mos.ru/news/item/75877073/.