On this day in 1984, Svetlana Savitskaya became the first woman to perform a space walk. She was also the second woman in space. The first was also a Russian, Valentina Tereshkova. That always kind of shocks me: here in the land of the free, we certainly are conventional. I’ve seen that with the press, which I now firmly believe is only free because it absolutely will never push against the power elite in this country. We have free speech in this country only so long as it isn’t used or is powerless.
I’ve often wondered about Sally Ride — the first American woman to go in space. Even to this day, she has the record for the youngest American to ever go into space. Did the US push her along out of a sense of embarrassment? I hope so! That’s not to take anything away from Ride. She undoubtedly was hurt far more by the politics of her gender than she was helped. I would like to think that the example of Svetlana Savitskaya helped our government get over itself about women in space.
Regardless, Svetlana Savitskaya is still around. She retired from the Russian Air Force in 1993. Currently, she is a member of the Federal Assembly of Russia, where she is a member of the Communist Party. That’s another thing. I don’t think of Russia as being a terribly free country. But there are serious libertarian and communist political parties in Russia. Here in the United States, everything is clustered to the right and to the extreme right. Things are so screwed up that most Americans think of the Democratic Party as leftist.
Anyway, we mark this day 31 years ago when the first woman walked in space.