because the woman's place is wherever the woman is...

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Valentina Tereshkova

Valentina Tereshkova was born in central Russia in 1937 to working class parents and she followed in her mother's footsteps, going to work in a textile factory in her early adulthood. But an ordinary life was not enough for Tereshkova, so -- at the age of twenty-two -- she joined the local Aeroclub and started parachuting out of planes.

Then, fate and her in-your-facedness joined hands and Tereshkova was chosen out of a pool of four hundred applicants to be trained as a cosmonaut, to go up in a space capsule in the very earliest stages of space exploration. The training was rigorous. Tereshkova and four other women were subjected to weightless flights, isolation tests, and centrifuge tests. They spent many hours intensely studying rocket theory and spacecraft engineering. They made more than 120 parachute jumps. And they were trained to fly MiG-15UTI jet fighters.

When her preparation was complete, only four years after her first jump from a plane, Tereshkova climbed aboard the Vostok 6 on June 16, 1963, and was launched into space to orbit the Earth forty-eight times over a three day period. Upon her successful return from the adventure, Tereshkova was named a Hero of the Soviet Union, the highest distinction her government could bestow.

Through the years after her historic flight, Tereshkova received many other awards around the world, completed a doctorate in engineering, and was recognized for her work in support of world peace. Today, she not only remains revered by the citizens of her homeland, but, in addition to all the other accolades she has received, Tereshkova has a crater on the far side of the moon named after her. It's a remarkable thing to be an in-your-face woman. It's even more remarkable to be an in-your-face woman a quarter of a million miles away!

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