May 01, 2008

The First Woman in Space

June 16, 1963 

the first spacecraft ever launched are on display in the space museum in Kaluga. When you look at them, your first thoughts are, “How on Earth could you even get inside such a tiny thing? And how could you lie motionless inside it for an hour, much less several days?” 

In June 1963, Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova spent 70 hours inside just such a tiny spacecraft, where she experienced an overwhelming force of acceleration and had to contend with a variety of bodily functions, including vomiting, all before recent advances in the science of astronaut diapering. Of course she had long dreamed of space flight and approached it with great determination and energy, enduring a punishing training regimen. But did she really know what she was getting into? Did the first astronauts tell one another everything they went through during orbit, the dismal solitude and horror that a person experiences when they are catapulted from Earth? Or were such recollections securely concealed behind the shroud of secrecy that surrounded everything associated with space travel in the 1960s?

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