valentina tereshkova

high flyer and Early Riser

Valentina Tereshkova had a big passion,  

And it wasn’t girly like handbags and fashion. 

She dreamed of one day going up into space,  

She got an opportunity and an option,  

And of course, the challenge, she chose to embrace.  

When I was younger, going into space was at the top of my bucket list. Now I am older, so things have changed. I’ve been on Planet Earth for eleven years, and I watch the news every day. And every day, I see the same nasty things repeated by the same people. Women are weak. Women exist to look pretty. Women can’t go into space; they’re not built for that, and they’d feel awfully scared. Going into space slides down my bucket list. Moreover, I have seen one too many occasions where rockets have failed to take off, or exploded, killing everyone inside. Going into space slides down my bucket list even further. I feel I would never make it for I am a woman. The mission could fail; I could die. Then I read about someone who didn’t care about any of these things: Valentina Tereshkova.  

Picture of a female astronaut wearing an orange space suit and white helmet
Valentina Tereshkova. We believe this image is out of copyright.


The Perfect Candidate

A “space race” was going on between the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) and the USA (United States of America). Both wanted to be the first to send a woman into space. One tiny problem halted both of them: they needed a resilient enough woman. In the USSR, they picked a handful of people who they thought were made of the right material to travel into space. Tereshkova, being in a parachute club, was considered a perfect candidate. There was gruelling training that she had to go through to sort the wheat from the chaff. Tereshkova was chosen as she was strong as an ox, and brave as a lion. Ladies and gentlemen, get ready for take-off!


Her amazing mission

Portrait of a woman with dark hair wearing a green jacket and medals
Valentine Tereshkova. We believe this image is out of copyright.

On the 16th of June, 1963, Valentina was 26 years old, and it was time for her to make her journey around the world. However, it wasn’t a normal trip. She wasn’t going to trek up mountains and sail many seas, because Tereshkova was going to orbit the Earth! At 09:00, Vostok 6 launched into the atmosphere with no delay or difficulties, and began its orbit. She and her crew orbited the Earth 48 times, a new record, and the photographs they took helped us gain a better understanding of our atmosphere. An international audience applauded as she floated around the spacecraft with the stars winking mischievously at her. 


Russia, we have a problem!

Tereshkova had a bumpy ride back to Earth. An error in the programming caused the ship to shudder. Food was like knives to Valentina’s stomach. They needed someone who could fix the problem while feeling nauseous and disorientated. Step forward: Valentina Tereshkova! Valentina manually fixed the fault and passed out immediately afterwards. She had to stand on her head to get out of her parachute when she landed! Fortunately, her only injury was a bruised nose.


My Inspiration

Valentina Tereshkova showed the world women can be tough as nails. We’re not weak, we don’t have to be built a certain way to go into space, and most importantly: we are fearless. Tereshkova didn’t give up and retire after her almost disastrous flight. Today she devotes her life to training other cosmonauts-to-be and fighting for world peace. I think she is an incredible woman, and she is my inspiration because she never gave up. If it wasn’t for her, she and the rest of her crew on Vostok 6 could have died, but she single-handedly saved them. Now she is 84 years old, and her goal is to go to Mars. Age won’t stop her. Neither will gender.

Going into space is back at the top of my bucket list. Thank you, Valentina Tereshkova.


The author

Gracie is a student at Sutton High School. Her fabulous profile of Valentina Tereshkova won the Key Stage 3 category of our 2021 ‘Personalities & Powers’ writing competition.