Everybody knows that Valentina Tereshkova was the first woman to travel into space. Now, do you know the name of the second woman space traveler? She was also a Soviet cosmonaut, and her name was Svetlana Savitskaya.
She holds the distinction of the first woman ever to go for a spacewalk and spend more than three hours outside the Salyut 7( space station) on July 25, 1984. During her spacewalk, she welded metals with the precision of a goldsmith!
Born on August 8, 1948, Svetlana Savitskaya was the adorable daughter of Yeveniy Savitsky, a World War II hero.
She was an energetic child from the very beginning with immense interest in co-curricular activities.No wonder Svetlana opts to go for elective courses in swimming, music, and figure skating during her high school days.
At the age of 16, she enrolled herself in skydiving classes without informing her parents.
It was only when during high school, Svetlana took elective courses in music, English, swimming, and figure skating.
Her father came to know about the same when he accidentally found a parachute knife concealed carefully in her school bag!
Svetlana Savitskaya gets enrolled in the Moscow Aviation Institute. However, this comes as no surprise as her father was himself a legendary fighter pilot and the commanding general in the Defence Forces.
Soon, the energetic personality becomes an active member of the Soviet National Aerobatics Team at the age of 22.
She even earned the nickname ‘Miss Sensation’ by the British press because of her superb performance in the World Aerobatics Competition in the UK.
After she graduated from the Moscow Aviation Institute as a flight instructor, she enrolled herself in the Pilot School. She learned the technique of how to fly turboprop and supersonic planes.
In 1980, she joined the Cosmonaut School, and after two years, she was selected as a crew member of the Soyuz T-7 mission.
On the professional front, Svetlana got her first job in 1980 as a cosmonaut. However, it was in 1982 that she was a crew member at the Salyut 7 space station.
She conducts various experiments on eye movement, cardiovascular system, motion sickness, and so on during her tenure.
She remained there for more than 7 days and became the second only women in space. Soon, she becomes a national hero and an inspiration to many aspiring women cosmonauts.
Exactly after two years, Svetlana was again selected for a space mission on July 17 when Soyuz T12 was launched for maintenance work on the Salyut 7 space station.
It was during this stint that she exited the space station and carried out the maintenance work involving welding, soldering, and cutting. Her famed space walk lasts more than 3 hours, and she becomes an overnight star!
She then starts working as a civil engineer at an industrial and scientific center. In 1987, she got appointed as the Deputy to the Chief Designer of the Energia Project.
However, she gradually becomes inclined towards politics and become a member of the Communist party.
Awards and Accolades
Although Svetlana won several awards during her high school and college days for parachute jumping, it was after her famed spacewalk that she won various accolades and awards, among which the notable ones are as follows:
- Hero of the Soviet Union
- Order of Lenin
- Order of the Badge of Honor
Apart from the above ones, she is also a world record holder as a pilot and has an asteroid in her name that orbits the Sun.
It was her overall excellence as a pilot and cosmonaut that changed the general perception towards females in space missions.
Svetlana is happily married to Viktor Khatkovsky, an engineer and pilot, and had a son. She is still alive and is inspiring millions of women across the globe.