Savitskaya, Svetlana (1948–)
Soviet cosmonaut; the second woman to orbit the Earth and
the first to go on a space walk. She spent a total of over 19 days in space.
The daughter of a World War II flying ace, who was also Deputy Commander
of the Soviet Air Defenses and a two-time Hero of the Soviet Union, Savitskaya
was refused entry to pilot school at age 16 but continued parachuting and
by her 17th birthday had made 450 jumps. The following year, she entered
the Moscow Aviation Institute (MAI) and in 1970 won the world aerobatics
competition in Hullavington as a member of the Soviet National Aerobatics
Team. Following her graduation from the MAI in 1972, Savitskaya was accepted
at a test pilot school where she set world records in turboprop and supersonic
aircraft, including the female airspeed record of 2,683 km/hr in a MiG-21.
On Jul. 30, 1980, she was selected to become a cosmonaut (the 53rd) and,
on Aug. 19, 1982, became the second woman in space when she and her fellow
crewmembers, Leonid Popov and Alexander Serebrov, flew Soyuz
T-7 to dock with the Salyut 7 space station.
During her second spaceflight, aboard Soyuz T-12 on July 25, 1984, Savitskaya
and fellow cosmonaut Vladimir Dzhanibekov carried out a three-and-a-half-hour
space walk to conduct welding experiments on Salyut 7. Subsequently, she
was appointed commander of an all-female crew to Salyut 7 for International
Women's Day, but the mission was canceled because of problems with the space
station and the limited availability of Soyuz T spacecraft. In 1987, Savitskaya
was made deputy to the chief designer at Energiya, and in 1989 became a
member of the Soviet parliament. She retired as a cosmonaut on Oct. 27,