THE RUSSIAN SEAGULL

By Natasha Holt


I come from Yaroslavl , Russia .  I have many reasons for being proud of this very beautiful city on the Volga , among which is the fact that Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space, hails from that area.  This brave woman, whom Russians have affectionately nicknamed nasha Chaika (our Seagull), remained in space for 71 hours, having completed 48 orbits of the Earth.  She has proved that women can successfully participate in major science projects, even in space exploration.

Tereshkova started her space career at the flying club in Yaroslavl , where she took up parachuting.  Despite her fragile appearance, Valentina was a very srong-willed, determined and hard-working young woman.  It took her about a hundred parachute jumps to prove that she possessed the qualities that are needed for being a pilot.  Tereshkova began her astronautical training a year after Gagarin's famous flight.  In a year she passed all sorts of science and endurance tests with honors. 

In June 1963, her spacecraft Vostok 6 was launched into earth orbit.  The aim of that space experiment was to study human psycho-physical resources, ability to work in conditions of weightlessness, the influence of space-flight factors on the human organism, and the reaction of the female organism to space flight.  In the tiny space capsule full of equipment, Tereshkova carried out a whole series of scientific, biological and medical experiments.  Later on, she completed another experiment, that time on land.  By marrying another cosmonaut, Adrian Nikolaev, and giving birth to a healthy child, she proved that staying in space for an extended period of time did not create any serious health problems or developmental/genetic disorders.

Valentina Tereshkova, the Russian Seagull

I've been to the Yaroslavl Museum of Cosmos where Valentina Tereshkova is highlighted alongside the other eminent Russian cosmonauts and scientists, including Yuri Gagarin, the first human being in space, and Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, the founder of scientific astronautics.  If you have a chance to go to Yaroslavl , please visit this fascinating museum!