Society History – BIS Awards Gold Medal to Valentina Tereshkova

Sadly, the ever-popular Sino-Russian Space Symposium has had to be cancelled for this year – but a piece of history has emerged concerning a Russian association for the British Interplanetary Society!

Our new Chief Executive Officer, Elizabeth Anderson, has been spending some time at Arthur c Clarke House recently, supervising some building repair work, and has been taking the chance to look around. Griffith Ingram chatted with Elizabeth about some of the artefacts in the Library, mentioning that a large portrait of a lady holding a bouquet was of Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space, on the occasion of her visit to London in 1964, when the BIS presented her with our Gold Medal in honour of her flight into orbit. The Gold Medal of the Society was introduced to celebrate famous achievements in Space, and the design on the obverse of the medal, designed by Mr R. Turner, was originally proposed as a badge for the Society.

The then-President, Dr Leslie Robert Shepherd, presented the medal at the Piccadilly Hotel, London, filmed by Pathe News. Griffith, intrigued by the story, searched on the Internet for information on the presentation, and found the newsreel! The link is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6M6WZw8eM0Y , and the newsreel is well worth watching by any interested in early human-crewed spaceflight.

Ms Tereshkova continued her studies after her spaceflight, graduating with honours from the Zhukovsky Air Force Engineering Academy in October 1969, and earning a doctorate in aeronautical engineering in April 1977. She is currently a member of the Duma, the Russian Parliament, serving as deputy chairperson of the Committee on the Federal Structure and Local Government. She affectionately refers to Helen Sharman as her “Space Sister”!

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