Forbidden kumis, sex in orbit and a vaccine from space: what Russian female cosmonauts have gone through

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Forbidden kumis, sex in orbit and a vaccine from space: what Russian female cosmonauts have gone through

Forbidden kumis, sex in orbit and a vaccine from space: what Russian female cosmonauts have gone through

After Yuri Gagarin was the first man to visit space, the whole world began to consider him almost a superman. As the space industry developed, new flights and amazing discoveries were made, humanity, of course, became more relaxed about astronauts. Over the 60 years that have passed since the legendary flight Vostok-1, more than 560 people have visited the Earth's orbit. But even today, in the era of rovers, space tourism and experiments aboard the ISS, hardly anyone would call this profession mundane.

Astronauts constantly subject themselves to the hardest tests: incredible overloads, noises, vibrations, limited mobility, isolation and long-term existence in a confined space – not everyone can withstand this. And the state of weightlessness, which from the outside looks like fun with objects flying around you, is by no means the most wonderful feeling. Being in zero gravity can cause malfunctions of the vestibular apparatus, headache and other unpleasant symptoms. And in the first hours after landing, it is difficult for an astronaut to adapt again to terrestrial conditions: all objects seem unusually heavy, coordination of movements is impaired, and a person may lose consciousness due to a sharp change in pressure. But when you see the fascinating footage of the Earth, shot through the window, you understand: all this is worth going through in order to be there at least once.

To become an astronaut, you need to go through the strictest selection and meet a number of qualities, among which one of the first places is taken by good health and endurance. Despite all the hardships of the profession, not only men, but also women go to astronauts. Of course, the fragile and pampered have nothing to do here: space does not make indulgences, the conditions are equal for everyone. But the female body during space flights one way or another experiences a more severe shock than the male. The first to experience this was Valentina Tereshkova, who went into space on June 16, 1963. You will find out in our article about legendary women in space about why she was gripped by horror during the ejection, for which Svetlana Savitskaya was twice expelled from the Cosmonaut Training Center and why Elena Kondakova's husband discouraged her from the third flight into space.

Valentina Tereshkova

Forbidden kumis, sex in orbit and a vaccine from space: what Russian female cosmonauts have gone through

Forbidden kumis, sex in orbit and a vaccine from space: what Russian female cosmonauts have gone through

Photo: S. Baranov / TASS

The flight of the first woman into space became for the whole world almost as significant an event as the flight of Yuri Gagarin. For the Soviet leadership, sending a woman into space, of course, was primarily a solution to a propaganda problem: it was important to show that in our socialist state everyone is equal, and women have the same rights and opportunities as men. But, of course, this was not all: the launch of the fairer sex into space was of great interest to scientists. No one knew how the female body would behave in zero gravity and how being in space would affect it later, upon returning to Earth.

When the USSR learned that the Americans were preparing to send a woman astronaut Jerry Cobb into space, they immediately began to organize a women's space group. The space race with the United States was gaining momentum: the American woman could not be allowed to be in orbit before ours. At the beginning of 1962, the selection of candidates started. We were looking for a parachutist under the age of 30, height up to 170 centimeters, weighing up to 70 kilograms, with good physical fitness. As a result, out of hundreds of applicants, five candidates were selected: Zhanna Erkina, Tatyana Kuznetsova, Valentina Ponomareva, Irina Solovieva and Valentina Tereshkova.

The girls were subjected to severe tests. In addition to training in a centrifuge, they were closed for a long time in a heat chamber, where the air temperature reached + 70 ° C, and the humidity was 30%. Since it is impossible to achieve zero gravity in terrestrial conditions, we also trained in the sky – on MiG-15 aircraft. The plane took off to an altitude of 6000 meters, then began to climb sharply at an angle of 45 degrees, and at an altitude of about 9000 meters, the engines were turned off, and the liner continued to fly by inertia. As soon as the force of inertia became equal to the force of gravity, weightlessness arose on board – the force of gravity inside the cabin became equal to zero. Such maneuvers in aviation are called parabolic slides. The state of weightlessness did not last long – from 30 to 40 seconds. During this time, the pilots had to complete certain tasks: talk on the radio, eat, write something by hand.

The girls were checked not only for physical, but also psychological stability. One of the most severe tests was the isolation chamber – a room completely isolated from sounds, where each candidate had to spend 10 days.

As a result, Valentina Tereshkova was selected out of five applicants. And, although the other girls were not inferior to her in the test results (Tereshkova was in last place), Valentina had two big advantages: she came from a family of workers and was good at performing in front of the public – all this was important for the future cosmonaut who was to represent the Soviet Union at international arena.

The decisive moment came on June 16, 1963. At 12:30 Moscow time, the Vostok-6 spacecraft was launched with Valentina Tereshkova on board. A few seconds before the rocket took off from the launch pad, Tereshkova quoted a phrase from Mayakovsky's poem “A Cloud in Pants”: “Hey, heaven, take off your hat!” Like the famous Gagarin's “Let's Go!”, These words have forever entered world history.

The first female astronaut spent almost three days in orbit, completing 48 revolutions around the Earth. All this time, the MCC was closely monitoring the state of her health. Lieutenant General Nikolai Kamanin, who supervised the selection and training of cosmonauts, later wrote: “In terms of clarity and coherence, Tereshkova's start reminded me of Gagarin's start … Yes, I am very glad that I was not mistaken in choosing the first woman cosmonaut.”

But not everything went smoothly. During the flight, Tereshkova experienced severe nausea and hardly touched food. In addition, until recently, it was not clear whether she could, if necessary, manually land the ship.

“I talked to Tereshkova several times. It is felt that she is tired, but does not want to admit it. In the last communication session, she did not answer calls from the Leningrad IP. We turned on the television camera and saw that she was asleep. I had to wake her up and talk to her about the upcoming landing, and about manual orientation. She twice tried to orient the ship and honestly admitted that she was not getting the pitch orientation. This circumstance worries all of us very much: if we have to land by hand, and she cannot orient the ship, then it will not leave orbit. To our doubts, she replied: “Don't worry, I will do everything in the morning.” She communicates well, thinks well and has not made a single mistake yet, ”Nikolai Kamanin wrote.

On top of that, a serious technical malfunction was discovered on board, due to which Tereshkova's flight almost ended tragically. During the next communication session, she reported that when the pilot tried to direct the ship to descend, he, on the contrary, began to rise.

“The fact is that in the automatic program of the spacecraft there was some inaccuracy, but rather an oversight: it was oriented so that instead of carrying out the descent system, its orbit, on the contrary, was raised. And instead of the Earth I flew “there”. I noticed this mistake on the very first day and reported it to Sergei Pavlovich, and he and Yuri Gagarin kept in touch with me, “Tereshkova told reporters.

However, she kept this incident secret for a long forty years: after landing, Korolev begged her not to say anything to anyone, and she, of course, obeyed. And only after the former deputy of the Queen, designer Yevgeny Shabarov made the truth public, Tereshkova also broke her vow of silence.

Fortunately, in automatic mode, all systems worked as they should, so there were no problems with landing. Rather, almost never arose. Having ejected at an altitude of seven kilometers, Tereshkova finally saw the Earth, but was not at all happy. The woman was horrified: below, under her, she saw a large lake. “First thought: Lord, they sent one woman, and she will have to get into the water!” She laughed afterwards.

In fact, of course, in such a case, she worked out a splashdown many times. But the wind blew the parachute to the side, and as a result, “The Seagull” (that was her call sign) landed in the fields of the Altai Territory. The landing was hard: Tereshkova hit her face hard on the pressure helmet. Local residents helped her take off her spacesuit, fed her with potatoes and gave her kumys to drink. After three days of an eating disorder, it was absolutely impossible to do this, but Tereshkova could not resist, for which she later received a scolding from Korolev. Her appearance was also rather unpresentable: because of the impact on the helmet, she broke her nose, and under her eye she had a big bruise.

The flight greatly exhausted Tereshkova, but in general her condition throughout the mission was assessed by doctors as satisfactory. Violations of the “vegetative character” turned out to be the biggest problem.

At that time, Vladimir Yazdovsky, Doctor of Medical Sciences, founder of space biology and medicine, was responsible for the medical support of the Soviet space program. In his studies, he noted that women “tolerate the extreme loads of space flight worse on the 14-18th day of the menstrual cycle.” For this reason, even this factor was carefully studied during the selection of applicants – after all, menstruation has a very large effect on a woman's body. They tried to guess so that Tereshkova's flight fell on favorable days of the cycle, however, due to the delay in the start and severe fatigue, it was not possible to comply with the flight regimen prescribed by the doctors. And yet, Tereshkova withstood all the loads and fulfilled her mission with dignity. She became not only the first, but also the youngest girl in space: at the time of launch, she was only 26 years old.

Svetlana Savitskaya

Forbidden kumis, sex in orbit and a vaccine from space: what Russian female cosmonauts have gone through

Forbidden kumis, sex in orbit and a vaccine from space: what Russian female cosmonauts have gone through

Photo: Pushkarev Albert / TASS

After Tereshkova's flight, women did not go to the stars for 19 years. Our compatriot Svetlana Savitskaya has again become the second lady in space. She became famous even before her legendary spacewalk. In 1965, the girl set three world records in skydiving from the stratosphere, and five years later she became the absolute world champion in aerobatic sports. But these heights of Savitskaya were not enough: she dreamed of space since childhood.

Svetlana graduated from the Moscow Aviation Institute (MAI) and also graduated from the flight technical school, having received the qualification “pilot-instructor”. In August 1980, Savitskaya was enrolled in the cosmonaut corps, and a year later she became an astronaut-researcher.

Her first flight took place in 1982. As a research cosmonaut, Savitskaya flew on the Soyuz T-7 spacecraft and the Salyut-7 orbital station. For the first time in history, a mixed crew was aboard the spacecraft: cosmonauts Leonid Popov and Alexander Serebrov went into orbit together with Savitskaya. After this flight, a real scandal erupted in the press.

The French newspaper Le Figaro wrote an article saying that the Soviet cosmonauts set up an experiment and tried to have sex in space. Partner Savitskaya, according to the publication, was one of her colleagues. This sensational information was allegedly provided to the newspaper by some “high-ranking officials in the space industry of the USSR.” However, the Soviet side did not comment on this information in any way, and Savitskaya herself always categorically refused to talk on this topic.

During the flights, Savitskaya conducted many different experiments. In particular, much attention was paid to the production of ultrapure drugs: it was believed that they could be obtained precisely in space.

“We had a lot of experiments – 22 or 24 in less than a week,” Savitskaya said in an interview. “Among them are new biotechnological experiments, including those for the production of ultrapure substances. It was expected that in zero gravity it was possible to get an ultrapure vaccine, ultrapure insulin, something else, it was assumed that it could be obtained in zero gravity. Indeed, we received a very clean vaccine, in my opinion, influenza. I was told that it was even used in the release of the vaccine as a reference. Insulin was cleaned and proved to be very promising. “

Of course, her main triumph was the flight that began on July 17, 1984. This time Savitskaya stepped on board the Soyuz T-12 spacecraft. In addition to her, the crew included cosmonauts Vladimir Dzhanibekov and Igor Volk. On the second day of the flight, Soyuz T-12 docked to the Salyut-7 orbital station.

On July 25, 1984, at 18 hours 55 minutes Moscow time, Svetlana Savitskaya was the first woman to make a spacewalk. The entire MCC, with bated breath, watched her every movement. Together with Dzhanibekov, she spent 3 hours and 35 minutes outside the station. During this time, the astronauts tested a universal hand tool for cutting, welding, soldering and spraying metals.

“It was the main, key element of my second flight. Strictly speaking, for the sake of ensuring the priority of our country in this important section of space activities, so that the first Soviet woman went into outer space. This is more stressful work. Yes, there are more dangers there, ”Svetlana admitted.

But, despite the enormous responsibility that lay on her, and all the danger of the mission, Savitskaya brilliantly coped with the task. All the time that she was floating in a black space vacuum, Svetlana not only kept calm, but also managed to joke. Towards the end of the work, male colleagues began to urge Svetlana to hurry to the festive dinner already prepared for her on board. To which Savitskaya, laughing, dismissed: “Boys, do not seduce until the work is finished, I will not return!”

She is still often asked if she felt a special attitude towards herself on the part of men: did they try to help her or, on the contrary, somehow pry her, humiliate her? But Savitskaya always assured: her partners saw in her only a colleague.

“I have never felt a special attitude, even if it was, I would have stopped it. Probably someone looked with skepticism. Maybe they expected that you would stumble somewhere, but this is impossible, because you will stumble and they will immediately say “baba”. And the man will stumble five times, and to him: “Well, I was mistaken, it's okay,” said Savitskaya.

Svetlana Savitskaya is the only woman twice Hero of the Soviet Union. After her legendary flight, she was supposed to again participate in the space program, this time she was appointed commander of the crew, which consisted only of women. The flight was scheduled for 1986, but never took place. Subsequently, Svetlana Savitskaya worked at NPO Energia, taught at her native MAI, and from 1996 to 2019 she was a deputy of the State Duma from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation.

Elena Kondakova

Forbidden kumis, sex in orbit and a vaccine from space: what Russian female cosmonauts have gone through

Forbidden kumis, sex in orbit and a vaccine from space: what Russian female cosmonauts have gone through

Photo: Pushkarev Albert / TASS

Elena Kondakova became our third compatriot who visited the Earth's orbit. She also has several impressive records. Kondakova became the first woman to fly on two different types of spacecraft – the Russian Soyuz and the American shuttle. In addition, she is the first woman to complete a long flight into space. Her space debut took place on October 3, 1994. Elena went to the Mir orbital station aboard the Soyuz TM-20 spacecraft as a flight engineer. She returned to Earth only on March 22, 1995, having spent 169 days at the station 5 hours 21 minutes – more than five months. For so long, no woman had been in space before her.

Kondakova admitted more than once: many believed that she got into space “through pull”, thanks to a successfully arranged personal life. The fact is that her husband is a famous Soviet and Russian cosmonaut, twice Hero of the Soviet Union Valery Ryumin. When they met, he was married, but feelings for Elena turned out to be stronger: Ryumin filed for divorce and proposed to his beloved. Ryumin was often appointed as test supervisor and technical supervisor in a technical position. Therefore, Elena knew: her husband vigilantly monitors her every action during the flight. But he did not allow any concessions, rather, on the contrary, Ryumin was very skeptical of women in astronautics. And Kondakova constantly had to do everything in spite of.

“At every communication session, even if I didn’t hear my husband’s voice, I felt that he was in the MCC, keeping the situation under control. But it's scary when landing. At the landing site, my husband met me every time. In Kazakhstan, I bought all the roses that were in the city. And he said briefly: “Hello!”, – the record holder recalled laughing.

Everyone expected that almost six months of being in space would have a detrimental effect on Kondakova's health. But, in her own words, she did not experience any special overloads. The most difficult test was the separation from family: the husband and little daughter dreamed of Elena every night.

Returning to Earth from her long business trip, Kondakova immediately began to prepare for the next flight. In August 1996, she traveled to the United States to train with American astronauts at the L. Johnson Space Center in Houston. On May 15, 1997, as part of the Atlantis crew, she again went to the Mir orbital station. This expedition lasted only nine days.

The brave pilot was preparing to make the third flight, but her husband dissuaded her – Ryumin was very worried about his wife. After finishing her career in space, Elena Kondakova decided to try herself in politics and, like other women-cosmonauts, became a State Duma deputy. In addition, in 2006 she graduated from the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Foreign Ministry, and in 2012 was appointed Trade Representative of Russia in Switzerland.

Elena Serova

Forbidden kumis, sex in orbit and a vaccine from space: what Russian female cosmonauts have gone through

Forbidden kumis, sex in orbit and a vaccine from space: what Russian female cosmonauts have gone through

Photo: Sorokin Donat / TASS

Elena Serova became the fourth and, to date, the last woman in the national cosmonautics who has been in orbit. She was the first Russian woman to fly to the ISS. Her business trip turned out to be almost as long as that of Elena Kondakova: Serova was in orbit for 167 days 5 hours 49 minutes.

The launch took place on September 26, 2014, Elena Serova went to the ISS aboard the Soyuz TMA-14M spacecraft. The docking was successful, and within 5 hours and 46 minutes after the launch, Elena joined the 41st and 42nd main expeditions as a flight engineer. Thus, the 17-year break in the flights of Russian women into space was violated.

On March 12, 2015, the crew of Roscosmos cosmonauts Elena Serova, Alexander Samokutyaev and NASA astronaut Barry Wilmore returned safely to Earth. The landing took place at 05:14 Moscow time, the descent vehicle landed in Kazakhstan, 147 kilometers southeast of the city of Zhezkazgan.

Anna Kikina

To date, there is only one woman in the Russian cosmonaut corps – Anna Kikina. She has never gone into space yet, but she already has a lot of significant achievements on her account. In 2017, Kikina, as flight engineer No. 1, took part in the international isolation experiment “SIRIUS”, which was an imitation of a flight to the moon. During the experiment, Anna simulated the docking of the promising Russian Federation spacecraft in Earth orbit, and also took part in simulating the remote control of the lunar rover using a virtual reality helmet.

In May 2018, together with cosmonauts Sergei Ryzhikov and Sergei Kud-Sverchkov, Anna underwent special parachute training for cosmonauts. She made 40 parachute jumps to practice combined camera work.

In August 2018, Kikina took part in trainings on conducting visual and instrumental observations of the Earth from the aircraft-laboratory of the CTC Tu-134LK. These and many other tests were carried out as part of the research program on the ISS.

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