“HOW UNBELIEVABLY BEAUTIFUL”
VALENTINA TERESHKOVA, the first woman in space.
In 1963, you were the first woman in space. How did your career begin?
I had always wanted to go skydiving, and I joined a flying club at age 18. It was a paramilitary flying club that was well known in Russia. I didn’t tell my mother at first, but I trained practically every weekend. I completed more than 90 jumps to land or water – not just by day, but by night as well.
How did you come to be selected by the Soviet space program?
The Soviet Union wanted to recruit women to become cosmonauts. The most important criterion was being able to parachute. The spaceship pretty much flew itself, but you had to be able to parachute from the craft to land. There were five of us women who were tested, and I was the one selected. But there was no jealousy. Even today, there’s still a bond between us, a camaraderie that never goes away.
What goes through your head when you’re floating through space and look down at the earth?
Everyone who has been in space, regardless of where they’re from, says the same thing: How unbelievably beautiful the Earth looks from space. You understand how very important it is to preserve the planet.
What effect has your space voyage had on your life?
I go around the world to meet as many people as possible, to talk to people and establish a connection with them. I tell them that we have to do whatever we can so as not to spoil our planet. People shouldn’t waste money on wars, but rather come together to discuss how to defend the world from cosmic threats and asteroids. The next big threat from an asteroid is in 2029. Let’s hope it doesn’t hit the earth.