The President presented Ms Tereshkova, currently deputy chairwoman of the State Duma Committee for International Affairs, the Order of Alexander Nevsky at the meeting. Ms Tereshkova was awarded the decoration for her great contribution to developing parliamentarianism in Russia and for her active work as a lawmaker.
Ms Tereshkova joined the cosmonauts’ detachment in March 1962, and made a solo spaceflight on the Vostok-6 spacecraft on June 16, 1963. Her successful spaceflight was a big milestone in developing cosmonautics in Russia, and in the history of space exploration in general.
The main events celebrating the spaceflight’s 50 anniversary will take place on June 16 in Yaroslavl, Ms Tereshkova’s native city.
Other Russian cosmonauts also took part in the meeting, including twice Heroes of the Soviet Union Valery Bykovsky and Alexei Leonov, Hero of the Soviet Union and Hero of the Russian Federation Sergei Krikalyov, and Director of the Russian Federal Space Agency Vladimir Popovkin.
* * *
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, friends.
We are meeting on the eve of an event that has great importance for the development of cosmonautics and the conquest of outer space, and also for our country’s life and history: the fiftieth anniversary of the first spaceflight by a woman, Valentina Tereshkova.
I am sure you will all agree that an event of this kind, when a woman does something that far from anyone, and far from every man, would be capable of doing, is unquestionably of historic significance. It is a source of pride that it was a citizen of our country, a citizen of the Soviet Union, who became the first woman in space.
Our cosmonautics sector continues its successful development today. We are one of the main participants in the international space programme and carry out the majority of space launches. We do have problems too of course, and we must resolve them. Every big undertaking has its problems. But we also have the needed technological, financial and human resources to keep moving forward.
As you know, we are currently building a new Russian space launch centre at Vostochny. This is a big project, one of the biggest projects underway in Russia now. This is not just a space launch centre but a whole science town. I am sure that this will be a big step in developing the space sector in general and developing advanced technology here in Russia.
A country like Russia, with its space sector traditions, should definitely have its own space launch centre. The work has already begun. I hope it will be of high quality and completed on time, and we will see the launches that take place there, including launches of manned spacecraft.
I know and remember, and many of you remember, that fifty years ago, the space pioneers were not just famous names but were without question national heroes. Here today are people who had a connection to the first spaceflight by a woman. They include Valery Bykovsky, who I think was also in orbit at that time, and Alexei Leonov, the first person to carry out a spacewalk. These are all big milestones in our country’s life and in the history of space exploration.
I welcome you all here and wish you all success, all the more so as many of you who were pioneers back then are very active now with public and political work.
Ms Tereshkova has always been at the centre of public life in a broad range of fields, has always been very active, and is now a deputy in the State Duma. We often see her on the TV screen. She already told me that she was in Vienna yesterday, where she spoke at the United Nations and recalled these events, becoming the first woman in space fifty years ago. We are very happy to see that the international organisations not only do not forget these milestones, but are celebrating their importance together with us.
For my part, I want to tell you that Ms Tereshkova has been awarded the Order of Alexander Nevsky, and in the run-up to this anniversary, here in your presence, friends and colleagues, I want to present her now with this decoration.
Presentation of the Order of Alexander Nevsky
Valentina Tereshkova: Mr President,
Let me first of all express my great thanks for your attention and kind words. You have a very busy schedule, but nonetheless find the time to meet with cosmonauts to discuss our problems and talk about the future.
Yes, it was my lot to be one of the pioneers laying the road into space. Was it difficult, yes, it was, but we were young and we were conscious of doing something very important for our country, and so we overcame all of the difficulties before us. We had marvellous scientists working with us, exceptional people who helped and guided us and prepared us for the spaceflights.
I am pleased to have been able to faithfully and honestly serve my homeland and country for 50 years now. Fifty years – it seems strange to think. You should know that we are always happy to see you in Yaroslavl. Thank you very much for the attention you give our city, and for the help that we always feel in our lives.
Not only schoolchildren enjoy visiting the planetarium that was built with your help. It is also a favourite place for youth and the elderly alike, for all of the city’s people. Thank you very much.
I can assure you that I will try to be worthy of these kind words and this high decoration until the end of my days, and will do my best to continue faithfully and honestly serving our homeland.
Thank you very much.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much.