Svetlana Savitskaya

Last week, cosmonaut Svetlana Yevgenyevna Savitskaya turned72 – Happy Birthday, Svetlana! Her life has been one of achievement – in 1982, she became the second woman in space (preceded by Valentina Tereshkova) and on the 25th July, Svetlana became the first woman to fly to space twice, and the first woman to perform an extra-vehicular activity. She set a number of world records as a pilot, certified by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale.
Svetlana is the daughter of Soviet WWII fighter ace Yevgeny Savitsky, later Deputy Commander-in-Chief of Soviet Air Defense, and at the age of eighteen, she made record parachute jumps from 13,800 m and 14,250 metre altitudes. Svetlana trained at the Fedotov Test Pilot School as a test pilot, and graduated in 1976.
She was selected as a cosmonaut on June 30, 1980, and made her first spaceflight, on Soyuz T-7, to the space station Salyut 7, on August 19, 1982 – the first time that the space station had a woman on board. She did encounter some sexism – as soon as she entered the space station, cosmonaut Valentin Lebedev handed her an apron and ordered her to “get to work”; however, she later stated to a journalist that she “was quickly able to establish a working, professional relationship with them.”

Svetlana’s second flight was in 1984, aboard Soyuz T-12. On July 25, Svetlana made a spacewalk that lasted 3 hours and 35 minutes, cutting and welding metals in space. Svetlana is still the only Russian woman to conduct an EVA.
Svetlana is married, with a son born in 1986. She is twice holder of both the Order of Lenin and Hero of the Soviet Union, and holds a special medal for the women’s world record stay in space. Asteroid 4118 Sveta is named in her honour.

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