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Russia’s first woman in space Valentina Tereshkova turns 80

March 06, 13:18 UTC+3 MOSCOW
Russian President Vladimir Putin has personally congratulated the world’s first woman cosmonaut
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Valentina Tereshkova

Valentina Tereshkova

© Alexei Nikolsky/Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/TASS

MOSCOW, March 6. /TASS/. Russia’s Valentina Tereshkova - the first woman in space, holder of the Hero of the Soviet Union title, first-ever lady to have been awarded the rank of Major-General, holder of the Woman of the Century title and legislator is 80 today.

A special exhibition at the lower house of Russia’s parliament timed for the anniversary features some historical artifacts devoted to Valentina Tereshkova’s space flight, accomplished on June 16, 1963.

On display there are the 400-kilogram ejector seat, space suit and 40-kilogram blue ventilation suit with a white seagull embroidered on the left shoulder. Tereshkova’s radio code name during the mission was Chaika (Seagull in Russian). Also, visitors can see a copy of the logbook Tereshkova made notes in on board the Vostok-6 spacecraft.

Tereshkova still remains the sole woman cosmonaut to have accomplished a space mission solo, not as a crew member.

Congratulations from Russia's president

Russian President Vladimir Putin has personally congratulated Tereshkova on her 80th anniversary. 

Putin, who is known for his creativity as far as gift-giving goes, presented her with a bronze sculpture by Iulian Rukavishnikov dubbed "Gull Landing on the Water" and a painting by Vitaly Zaitsev named "Gulls above the Volga". Thus Putin referred to the legendary famous call sign - Chaika (or gull) - that Tereshkova used during her space flight in 1963.

"Dear Valentina Vladimirovna, allow me to offer you my sincere and wholehearted greetings to you on your anniversary," the president began. "I have two presents for you. This is, actually, your call sign. And a wonderful, beautiful painting named "Gulls above the Volga", in fact, it is a picture of your native region."

Tereskova responded by saying that she was very touched by the gift.

Putin also thanked her for serving the country. "Starting from you legendary space flight, you have always set a good example for us and have always been a symbol of service to the country - in various places and in various positions - and now you continue to work at the State Duma," the Russian leader said.

"I know how much you love our great Homeland, Russia, as well as your native Yaroslavl region, you always care for it, always mention it whenever we meet. This is what your strength is based on - you cordial affection for the Homeland," Putin noted.

Several days ago, Tereshkova was awarded Class I Order For Merit to the Fatherland for outstanding contribution to efforts to strengthen Russia’s statehood, development of parliamentarism and active lawmaking activities.

Valentina Tereshkova

Valentina Tereshkova was born on March 6, 1937 to a peasant family in a village in the Yaroslavl Region. Her father was killed during the Soviet Finnish war in 1939. In 1960 she graduated from a light industry vocational college (as a qualified cotton spinning specialist), and in 1969, the Zhukovsky Aerospace and Engineering Academy (as a spaceflight engineer).

Back in the early days of her professional career as a factory worker in Yaroslavl, Tereshkova joined an air sports club - a hobby of many Soviet young men and women in those years - to have performed 163 parachute jumps.

She was one of the first 58 young women who had applied for participation in the Soviet space program to have been enlisted on March 12, 1962. There followed a course of training from March to November 1962.

Her space flight lasted nearly three days - 70 hours and 50 minutes, during which time she orbited the globe 48 times. While in flight Tereshkova made notes in the logbook and took photographs.

Tereshkova was married twice. Her first husband was cosmonaut Andriyan Nikolayev. Their wedding, arranged as a gala reception, was attended by Soviet leader Nikita Krushchev. In 1982 Tereshkova and Nikolayev parted. Her daughter Yelena from the first marriage was the first offspring of parents who had both been exposed to the space environment.

Tereshkova’s second husband, surgeon Yuli Shaposhnikov, chief of the Central Institute of Traumatology and Orthopedics, died in 1999.

In 1969-1997 Tereshkova was an instructor at the cosmonauts’ training center.

Alongside her professional career she displayed herself as an active public figure and woman activist. She led the Soviet Women’s Committee in 1968-1987. In the following years she held a number of other high-profile posts in Russian NGOs. Joined modern Russia’s politics in the early 2000s. On September 18, 2016 Tereshkova was elected to the 7th State Duma on the United Russia ticket.

Tereshkova has to her credit many top Soviet, Russian and foreign awards and the title of honorary citizen of 20 Russian and foreign citizens, including Montreux and Drancy. She is an author of 50 scientific works.

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