Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Valentina Tereshkova: The First Woman in Space


How many North Americans remember the first woman in space? How many know her name? Not very many, I'd venture to say. Well, she was a Russian, a Soviet cosmonaut and an ardent communist. Perhaps that is why she's not exactly a household name in this part of the world.

The first female in space was Valentina Tereshkova and she flew on the Vostok 6 mission which was launched on June 16, 1963 - forty-seven years ago today. Tereshkova was neither an acclaimed scientist nor an academic. She was an ordinary Russian woman, a textile mill worker whose passion was parachuting. In fact, she became an expert civilian parachutist. Valentina Tereshkova is 73 years old now and is revered in her Russian homeland.

It's interesting to note that the Americans did not send a female astronaut into space until twenty years later when Dr. Sally K. Ride became the first American woman to achieve that goal. Ride, a physicist from California, was lauched into space on June 18, 1983 aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger.

Canada sent its first female astronaut into space on January 22, 1992. Roberta Bondar spent eight days in space conducting various experiments and photographing the earth's surface. Dr. Bondar was a crew member of the Space Shuttle Discovery and the first neurologist in space.


"When I think about those nights in Montreal
I get the sweetest thoughts of you and me"

- Gino Vannelli
From the song "I Just Wanna Stop"

I really like that song. It energizes me.

Gino Vannelli was born in Montreal, Quebec (where else?) on this day in 1952. He turns 58-years-old today.


After winning the first game of their series against the San Diego Padres on Monday , the Blue Jays lost badly to the Padres last night. Their woes against National League teams continue.

Sports Illustrated chose baseball's latest pitching sensation to grace the cover of its latest edition. Stephen Strasburg, the rookie pitcher for the Washington Nationals is hyped on the magazine's cover as a "national treasure." I have nothing against young Strasburg. He may be the second coming of Cy Young and he may be in the Hall of Fame at Cooperstown someday. But the operative word is "someday." The story that should have made the cover of SI was the Stanley Cup victory of the Chicago Blackhawks after 49 years. That was a definite achievement and it was histories. To those who say I'm biased because I'm a Canadian puckhead, this is my reply. I am a staunch baseball fan, as regular readers of Number 16 will attest. Sory, Sports Illustrated, but this time you made the wrong choice.

- Joanne