Seagull in stars: 50 years after first female space flight

When Valentina Tereshkova, call sign Chaika (Seagull), reached orbit on June 16, 1963, she believed she had opened space up to women forever. Yet 50 years on, female cosmonauts remain an anomaly in the Russian space program.

Read the Timeline of the historic flight

Soon after the Vostok 6 mission landed after 70 hours in space —
longer than all the US astronauts put together up to that moment
— footage was beamed around the world, showing an ordinary,
smiling 26-year-old textile factory girl emerging unscathed from
her shuttle. Here, was evidence that in the Soviet Union, anyone,
not just men, scientists or pilots, could be sent on a space
mission — a feat of both egalitarianism and reliable technology.

But just as that shoot was actually a re-staging of an event that
happened 24 hours earlier, so the story of Soviet female
cosmonauts is not as straightforward as the triumphant official
history.

Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev decided that the Russian space
program would be the first to send women to space as far back as
1961, the year Yuri Gagarin became the first man to exit the
Earth’s atmosphere.

Valentina Tereshkova had made more than a hundred skydives at her
Yaroslavl parachuting club (which were widely promoted in the
USSR, both as a pastime and a covert form of military training)
when she was picked out by a Mosc

This article originally appeared on: RT