She is the only one who has made a solitary 48-lap walk around the Earth in three days.
On June 16, 1963, Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman to conquer outer space. “She is the only one who has made a solitary walk of 48 laps around the Earth in three days,” said Julieta Fierro Gossman, a researcher at the Institute of Astronomy of UNAM.
Born on March 6, 1937, the cosmonaut has become an icon in the space race. Today everyone remembers her for her fantastic journey that no one else on Earth has ever repeated.
Valentina had a difficult life, she lost her father in World War II when she was only two years old and her mother had to work in a yarn factory.
At age 10 she entered school and at 17 she dropped out. However, secretly from her mother, he took skydiving classes. At first she was afraid of jumping off the plane, but later she learned very well to manipulate the parachute. “In fact she was very bold, she would jump from the plane and until the last moment she would open the parachute.”
How did she get to space?
At that time, the former Soviet Union (USSR) was competing with the United States to conquer space. The Soviets launched the first satellite on October 4, 1957 and then the Americans did. And in 1961, the USSR launched the first astronaut into space: Yuri Gagarin.
One of the Soviet generals read that the Americans would put a woman in space and thought: “This is inadmissible.” He convinced others that the United States had to be beaten in that feat.
They recruited more than 400 women, one of them was Valentina. She was chosen for her ability to parachute.
At that time the space capsules were spheres and when they re-entered the Earth the lower part detached and the astronaut with a seat parachuted down to land in a desert. “The location was not very well known, perhaps less than 28 kilometers in diameter at the site of diameter where they could land.”
Valentina trained for two years to be the best cosmonaut. It was a secret mission, so her mother didn’t know anything, she thought her daughter was practicing skydiving.
The mother found out that Valentina was the first female astronaut when neighbors told her that her daughter was on television and she couldn’t believe it. She replied: “You are wrong, that is not my daughter.” But she found out the truth.
The mission was scheduled to take place 10 days earlier, but the Sun had very violent solar flares and these cosmic rays from the solar wind are very harmful to humans. This delayed the mission. “They were days of anguish for the cosmonaut.”
Once the cosmic rays had passed, they launched Tereshkova into space and at all times she was nauseous. The first day she recognized that there was a misplaced instruction and instead of returning it to Earth, she was programmed to launch it into outer space.
It was a General’s mistake, she contacted her to try to fix it. During her sidereal journey, she did not rest, at all times she was aware of the devices and very anguished. Later, the General learned of her mistake and the instructions for re-entry of her ship to Earth were reconfigured.
This was a secret for a long time, because they were forbidden to speak about the matter that it was an “inadmissible mistake”. After 30 years, the general confessed her mistake and Valentina was able to talk about that matter that distressed her during her trip.
She “she Almost she did not eat, she did not like the food she brought, she had toothpaste, but they did not give her a brush. They were different times”.
On her return to Earth, she perfectly activated the parachute, she reached a desert area where some peasants arrived and stole her parachute, because they thought it was something very valuable.
She did not bother, on the contrary, she offered them some of her food. The inhabitants of the place understood that it was something extraordinary. After her they brought her soup and bread themselves while they came to collect her.
Tereshkova had every possible tribute from her, even the president of the time Nikita Khrushchev kissed her on the mouth of her. “It was a scandal, because such action was not common, but everyone was very excited.”
The cosmonaut married an astronaut and they had a daughter, “the only girl who has been the daughter of two cosmonauts.” A year later they divorced and she married another man with whom she was her whole life.
After her sidereal journey, Valentina studied for a bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate in engineering and decided to put together ships headed for space.
She subsequently devoted herself to public service and obtained a post in the Russian parliament. She fought for women’s rights, at the time some wanted to minimize her achievements.
Valentina and Yuri Gagarin visited Mexico, at that time Julieta Fierro was very young and she dreamed of reaching the stars. The astronomer went to see them.