In 1963, at the age of 26, Valentina Tereshkova was selected from more than 400 applicants to become the first woman to fly in space, blazing a trail for the many female space explorers who would follow.
Before becoming an astronaut, Tereshkova was a textile factory worker and an avid skydiver. Her three-day mission was the 12th human spaceflight in history.
Upon her return from space, she tried to describe the experience, “The pressure pushes me in the chair, shuts my eyes. I notice the dark red tongues of the flame outside the windows. I’m trying to memorize, fix all the feelings, the peculiarities of this descending, to tell those, who will be conquering space after me.”
Although Tereshkova wanted to go back to space, the powers that be, forbade her from flying again. “I was desperately keen to go back there, but it didn’t happen. How many people get to achieve their childhood dream even once?”
Today, at the age of 76, Tereshkova says she ready to go back, and apparently Mars is her favorite planet. “I am ready,” she said at a recent event celebrating her her milestone, “Of course, it’s a dream to go to Mars and find out whether there was life there or not.”
Well, she may just have some competition from young Astronaut Abby on this one!