Interview with Valentina Tereshkova

There will be more women cosmonauts, says the first woman in space. Forty-five years after her historic flight, Valentina Tereshkova recalls what caused her to be picked for the important mission.

With what spirit do you celebrate today’s anniversary, and what are your plans for the future?

Valentina Tereshkova: I’m in good spirits, because I’m meeting with my friends today, those who were in trained with me. Our first women’s crew included 5 people who passed the medical selection board in 1961. We began our preparation at the beginning of 1962. The requirements were really strict. We were locked inside to study theory all day long. Our practice included studying the spacecraft, flying on airplanes and parachute jumping. Even though we had done parachuting before, except for one lady. 2 of us, Tanya Kuznetsova and Valya Ponomareva, were from Moscow. Irina Solovieva, my backup person, was from Sverdlovsk. Zhanna Sergeichik was from Ryazan, and I was from Yaroslavl. Those were the members selected for the first crew.

Today we will also meet our colleagues, the space pilots, who spent more than half of their life working together here. Every tree that had been planted here was a part of our contribution to make this place look nice.

You were the one selected among the five women. It was great luck. How do you think others felt about it? Were they jealous?

V.T.: Of course they were upset in their own way. Especially Irina Solovieva, who stayed on the bus wearing her space suit when I went to space. But you know, today, many years later, our friendship is still alive. We’ve shared all our joys and sorrows and losses of our loved ones. Of course I understand their feelings. On the other hand, Sergey Korolev had promised that flights for women crews would become possible and that our girls would definitely fly later. Unfortunately, he died in January 1966. Then we experienced a number of failures and losses. Vladimir Komarov died when testing a spacecraft. Then a voluntary crew died. So our women’s crew kept being postponed every time.

Today our women don’t fly. Do you think this situation will change in the near future?

V.T.: Our women are in training now. They are working towards it. Our space industry has many excellent women experts who would be able to work successfully on board of the international space station. But not everything is up to us. However, I believe our women will fly to space again.

There were different rumours about your food poisoning in space.

V.T.: What can I say? I don’t react to those rumours, as no reasonable man would ever believe them. And there are many documents for those who want to know the truth about flights.