Rich tributes were paid to world’s first woman cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova at a function, specially organised for school children, at the Russian Centre of Science and Culture (RCSC), jointly with the Science Popularisation Association of Communicators and Educators (SPACE) and Vigyan Prasar, Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, on April 8, 2013.
The educational programme comprised a lecture-series on Valentina Tereshkova, evolution of Russian space science, space exploration in general and achievements of Indian space research.
Around 200 students, accompanied by their teachers, from the ASN Senior Secondary School (Mayur Vihar), Amity International School (Gurgaon, Vasudhara, and NOIDA), Hillwoods Academy (Preet Vihar), and Tagore International School (Vasant Vihar) were present at the function.
The presentation by Ms. Yelena Shtapkina, Deputy Director (Culture & Information), RCSC, specifically highlighted Valentina Tereshkova’s biographical account as well as the inspiration to take up flying, which culminated into her space mission. In 1962, Valentina became one of the five candidates chosen for a year-long training and finally got selected to pilot the Vostok-6 spacecraft. Codenamed “Seagull”, she orbited the Earth on June 16, 1963.
She headed the Soviet Women’s Committee, and since 1994, held the position of the Head of the Russian Centre for International Scientific and Cultural Cooperation. Retired from military forces as Aviation Major-General, since March 2012, she is the Deputy Chairperson of the Committee for International Affairs for the Russian State Duma. She has won numerous orders and medals of various countries, as well as the title of the Honorary Citizen of many cities of Russia, Belarus, Switzerland, France, Great Britain and Italy. She was named Hero of the Soviet Union and was twice awarded the Order of Lenin. Valentina Tereshkova has a crater on the far side of the Moon, named after her. Her presentation was followed by the screening of a short film on Valentina Tereshkova’s space flight.
Throwing light on the landmark achievements of Russian space science, the presentation by Mr. Andrei Sakantsev, In-Charge of Science and Technology Section, RCSC, pinpointed the contributions of Tsiolkovsky, founder of modern cosmonautics, to rocket designs and space stations, Fridrich Tsander, who studied problems of inter-planetary travel, life support, etc., and Sergei Korolev, father of practical cosmonautics. Emphatic references were made on Russian north launch site, first launch of inter-continental ballistic missiles, launching of world’s first artificial Earth satellite, finding of Star City, launching of world’s first cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s space odyssey, etc. The presentation also included mission by the first man’s venture out of spacecraft to outer space, mission to Moon, space probe Venera, world’s first inter-planetary flight, soft-landing on Moon, first Soviet-American and Soviet-Indian space flight, Buran project’s unmanned orbital spaceflight, creation of International Space Station MIR, etc. The presentation was followed by the screening of a short film on the historic space flight of Yuri Gagarin.
Dwelling upon the evolution of space science, Mr. C. B. Devgun, President, SPACE, made an emphatic appraisal of the systematic development of space probes undertaken by Russia and India. In his presentation, Mr. Devgun traced the landmark cosmic patterns with the help of geographic maps and diagrammatic facts and figures.
Infusing ardent interest in school children on the intrinsic aspects of space science, Dr. T. V. Venkateswaran, Scientist ‘F’, Vigyan Prasar, Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, narrated the consistent efforts taken by Indian space scientists under the guidance of Dr. Vikran Sarabhai and other personalities in realising the achievements in communication and other spheres.
The event is part of the Festival “The Seagull” organized by the RCSC in March-June, 2013 to mark the 50th anniversary of the space mission by Valentina Tereshkova. The programme of the festival comprises lectures, film screenings, photo exhibitions and dance and painting competitions.