female cosmonaut

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You’d think more than a year after this interaction, people would learn to stop asking female cosmonauts sexist questions. And yet, here we are. Russia is sending an all-female group into a space simulation — and not only were they just asked how they’d get by without makeup, but what they’d do without men. They shut it down just as quickly.

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The First Woman In Space Turns 80, And You Probably Never Heard Of Her

“Her flight into space, at age 26, is still the record for youngest female astronaut/cosmonaut. Aboard Vostok 6, her rendezvous with Vostok 5 cosmonaut Valery Bykovsky made them the first cosmonauts aboard different vessels to communicate in space. In cosmonaut history, only Yuri Gagarin and Alexey Leonov are more revered.”

Sally Ride was the first American woman in space, launched aboard the space shuttle Challenger in 1983 amidst controversy. At 32, she was the youngest astronaut in history, surrounded by questions such as “will it ruin her reproductive organs,” “what if she’s menstruating” and “will she weep if something goes wrong on the job?” But 20 years prior, cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova proved that women had every bit as much mettle and ability as the men. Tereshkova’s 1963 flight – which she piloted, orbited Earth 48 times in, and even had the first spacecraft-to-spacecraft communication in – demonstrated that women could withstand and function in space just as well as men. She was only 26 at the time, still a global record for women in space. Her incredible life in the military, in politics and as an ambassador for space exploration continues to this day, on which she celebrates her 80th birthday.

Come get the whole story – as much as fits in 200 words – on Valentina Tereshkova as part of today’s Mostly Mute Monday.

Valentina Tereshkova (b. 1937) is a Russian cosmonaut, the first woman to have flown in space. She achieved this on 16 June 1963, when she was launched into space aboard the Vostok 6 spacecraft.

She was part of a group of five, called the female cosmonaut corps, recruited specifically for the purpose. She spent three days on her flight, during which time she orbited Earth 48 times. She also obtained a degree from Zhukovsky Air Force Academy as a cosmonaut engineer.

Lost Cosmonaut

Lost Cosmonaut – First Female in Space?

The lost casmonaut conspiracy theory is fairly well known. It is said that a group of Soviet cosmonauts entered space without telling the Soviet or Russian space authorities.

This audio was recorded by the Judica-Cordiglia brothers in 1961. It is reportedly one of many transmissions intercepted by the two brothers that prove the existence of the lost cosmonauts. 

It is in Russian and translates to:

five…four…three …two…one…one
two…three…four…five…
come in… come in… come in…
LISTEN…LISTEN! …COME IN!
COME IN… COME IN… TALK TO ME!
TALK TO ME!… I AM HOT!… I AM HOT!
WHAT?… FORTYFIVE?… WHAT?…
FORTYFIVE?… FIFTY?…
YES…YES…YES… BREATHING…
BREATHING… OXYGEN…
OXYGEN… I AM HOT… (THIS)
ISN’T THIS DANGEROUS?… IT’S ALL…
ISN’T THIS DANGEROUS?… IT’S ALL…
YES…YES…YES… HOW IS THIS?
WHAT?… TALK TO ME!… HOW SHOULD I
TRANSMIT? YES…YES…YES…
WHAT? OUR TRANSMISSION BEGINS NOW…
FORTYONE… THIS WAY… OUR
TRANSMISSION BEGINS NOW…
FORTYONE… THIS WAY… OUR
TRANSMISSION BEGINS NOW…
FORTYONE… YES… I FEEL HOT…
I FEEL HOT… IT’S ALL… IT’S HOT…
I FEEL HOT… I FEEL HOT… I FEEL HOT…
… I CAN SEE A FLAME!… WHAT?…
I CAN SEE A FLAME!… I CAN SEE A
FLAME!…
I FEEL HOT… I FEEL HOT… THIRTYTWO…
THIRTYTWO… FORTYONE… FORTYONE

AM I GOING TO CRASH?… YES…YES… I FEEL HOT!…
I FEEL HOT!… I WILL REENTER!… I WILL REENTER…
I AM LISTENING!… I FEEL HOT!…

First Female Cosmonaut Arrives on Station as Part of Expedition 41/42

The ISS saw the arrival of three new crew members this week. Russian cosmonauts Elena Serova and Alexander Samojutyaev, along with NASA astronaut Bruce Wilmore joined NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman, ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst, and Russian cosmonaut Maxim Suraev on station. 

Serova is only the fourth female cosmonaut to fly inspace and one of only 18 females to be selected as cosmonauts since 1961. These numbers are in stark contrast to the United States, who has had over 40 women selected as astronauts, and even had two female commanders of the space station – Peggy Whitson (2007-2008) and Sunny Williams (2012). 

Elena tried to make light of her historic mission, by saying she thought of this as just work, her job is space. However, she did recognize its significance and what it means for Russian women. 

Elena is an accomplished engineer and even worked in Russian Mission Control prior to being selected for the cosmonaut corps in 2006. She is a graduate of the esteemed Moscow Aviation Institute and was selected as part of the Expedition 41/42 crew back in 2011.

Serova is described as being the first female cosmonaut selected based on her skills and merits, and boy is she qualified. Hopefully, she will have a long history with the space program. 

Despite being highly qualified, Elena had to suffer through countless questions at pre-launch briefings about what her hair and make-up regime would be on station. She was quick to fire back at reporters, asking them why don’t ask her male comrades what they were going to do with their hair. 

Serova joins a small club of high-flying Russian women. This groups includes the first woman in space Valentina Tereshkova (1963); the first woman to perform a space walk, Sveltlana Savitskaya (1992, 1994); and the first woman to fly a long-duration mission and the only female cosmonaut to fly on shuttle, Yelena Kondakova (1994-1995).

In November, Serova will be joined by another female astronaut, Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoferetti. Samantha is Europe’s third female astronaut behind Helen Sharman in 1991, and Claudie Haignere in 2001.

Image & Source Credit: NASA/ESA/Roscosmos

Watch: Female Russian cosmonaut is a boss, shuts down sexist reporter 

“Can you tell me more about your everyday life on the station? How are you planning to do your hair?”

That was an actual question asked of Yelena Serova at press conference about her upcoming trip to the ISS. Apparently only female cosmonauts can be asked about their hair and grooming routines, even if they’re about to make history.   

Her answer is amazing | Follow micdotcom

#276 Because of Yelena Serova.

Last week Russia sent a woman into space for the first time in 17 years as part of a U.S-Russian mission to the International Space Station. Being chosen as part of the crew for a space expedition is quite an accomplishment. It’s a job which asks for years of training, excellent skills and the trust and respect of your peers. One would imagine that the international press would have a hundred questions to ask Yelena  Serova about her work. But at the pre-launch press conference, Serova was questioned about:

- her hair.

- her makeup.

- her daughter.

Serova’s response:

“Can I ask a question, too: aren’t you interested in the hair styles of my colleagues?”

According to the BBC, this is not the first time Serova has faced such questions.
Russian female cosmonaut gets angry at 'hair' question in space press conference
External image

Yelena Serova, the first Russian woman to go to the International Space Station, gets visibly annoyed when she is asked about make-up and hair at a pre-flight press conference.

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The NASA Village

Today in the NASA Village… A Passion for Space Pushes Limits.

She dreamed of becoming an astronaut during the early days of the Space Age in the 1960s, years before women were allowed to apply. It was a time filled with science-fiction movies and TV shows of the future. She heard Alan Shepard’s launch on the radio in second grade. When NASA allowed women to apply to be astronauts, she submitted her application in 1978. Candy Torres’ story also emphasizes the importance of role models.

Valentina Tereshkova the year she flew.

“I wanted to work in science though that was a very strange idea for a Puerto Rican girl in the 1960s. I saw science and technology as the way to improve people’s lives. I grew up visiting relatives in Harlem and I lived in a housing project in The Bronx so I knew about poverty and discrimination. I was 13 when Star Trek came on and I saw different types of people including women, which has been the major source of inspiration throughout my life with a positive view of the future.”

Years later, Torres would receive an autograph from the Star Trek actress Engineer Torres with a signed autograph and the message, ʺFrom one Torres to another.ʺ

Did you know that it was Russia who sent the first woman into space? Valentina Tereshkova flew in 1963. The United States didn’t send Sally Ride into space until twenty years later!  In contrast, Russia has only had 4 female cosmonauts fly in space, while the US has sent 43 women to orbit.  

Sally rides 20 years later.

The reality of the world now is that even though there have been tremendous advances, we each may face obstacles that will need to overcome.  

Candy said, “I was told early on that little girls don’t work in science and their dreams don’t come true. I had no role models in my family or community. As a girl I ran into barriers. I chose Leonardo da Vinci and Amelia Earhart as my role models though live ones would have been better. As a teenager I joined Civil Air Patrol to get my aerospace education and I learned to fly an airplane before I learned to drive a car. In college I entered engineering, but saw none of the other 6 women in any of my classes. The guys ignored me and made their disdain clear. There were no support groups or mentoring for women engineers. I decided to take advantage of the individual major option choosing any course related to space science.” This decision gave her the background which was important years later when she graduated and got a job at Princeton University’s Astrophysics Department on the Orbiting Astronomical Observatory (OAO-3C). Years later she moved to Houston to support the space shuttle and space station programs.

The only way to make change happen is to pioneer the change. Each of us can play a crucial role in inspiring the next generation to expand a bit further.  The greatest solutions to what might at first glance be an immovable obstacle is creative innovation. In today’s world, woman engineers and scientists are likely still experiencing similar problems.

Are things changing?  Do you have any innovative ideas for expanding perspectives and viewpoints?

Next time on the NASA Village… Flight Surgeon: What’s Up Doc?

Do you want more stories?  Find our NASA Villagers here!