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Biography of Svetlana Savitskaya, pilot and Soviet cosmonaut. She was the second woman to travel into space and did so in 1982.
She was the first woman to take a spacewalk. She did this during her stay on the Salyut 7 space station on July 25, 1984.
She remained outside the station for 3 hours and 35 minutes.
Svetlana had a marvelous skill in skydiving, was an acrobatic pilot with multiple records, had technical knowledge of aeronautics.
Childhood and studies of Svetlana Savitskaya
Svetlana Savitskaya was born in Moscow on August 8, 1948.
Her father Yeveniy Savitsky was commander of the Soviet air defenses. He had an outstanding performance during the Second World War and was twice recognized as a hero of the Soviet Union.
In addition to the teaching received during high school, Svetlana took elective courses in music, English, swimming, and figure skating.
When she turned 16, she enrolled in skydiving classes, without authorization from her parents.
Svetlana Savitskaya passionate about skydiving
From the first day, Svetlana had a true passion for flying and parachuting. It took a year for her father to discover what his daughter was doing.
As expected, Svetlana had no trouble convincing Commander Savitsky that he was to blame and to support her.
Before long, she parachuted from 14,252 meters high.
This was followed by 450 more jumps and set three world records in jumps from the stratosphere.
She also set 15 world records in jumps from jet planes.
There is no doubt that if Svetlana Savistkaya had lived in the 1930s, she would have wanted to emulate the intrepid American aviator Amelia Earhart.
Svetlana Savitskaya passionate about planes
Her experience in skydiving and her energetic personality opened the doors for her to be admitted to the training of the “Soviet School of Aviation Engineering“.
She was also admitted to study at the “Moscow Aviation Institute”.
At the age of 20, Svetlana Savistkaya was an expert in handling the Yak-18 aircraft.
Two years later, in 1970 and at the age of 22, Svetlana was the sensation of the Soviet aerobatics team during the world aerobatics competition in Hullavington, UK.
Upon her return, she received the title of Meritorious Sports Teacher of the USSR.
In 1972, Svetlana graduated as “expert pilot” from the “Central Technical Flight School, from the USSR Voluntary Society for the Promotion of the Army, Air Force and Navy“.
Following these fundamental achievements for her, she was admitted to the “Pilot School”.
There in that school, Svetlana learned to master the technique of flight in turboprop planes and in the supersonic plane.
She stood out as the woman who flew 2,683 km per hour in a Mig-21 plane; 20 pilots were qualified as pilots.
In 1976, after completing her training as a test pilot, she was assigned to the Yakovlev aircraft design office, to contribute to the improvement of Soviet aircraft.
In addition, she was distinguished with the title of “test pilot” of the Ministry of Air Industry of the USSR.
Svetlana selected as a cosmonaut
In 1980 Svetlana’s great opportunity came when she was selected as a cosmonaut.
She became part of the newly formed “Group of Women Cosmonauts“.
All of them participated in a complete training course for space flight on Soyuz-type ships.
The illusion of all of them was to repeat the feat of Valentina Tereshkova, who was the first woman to travel to space on June 16, 1963.
On April 19, 1982, the USSR had launched the Salyut-7 Space Station. It was more advanced than the six stations previously released.
The Station had docking hatches at both ends, an improved fueling system, and more comfortable accommodations. It allowed a maximum crew of three cosmonauts.
On August 19, 1982, Svetlana Savistskaya was launched with two other cosmonauts on a Soyuz T-6 shuttle, bound for the Salyut-7 station.
The Salyut-7 was uninhabited and under construction.
They brought materials and mechanisms to continue building it, so that it could accommodate future crews.
Svetlana became the second woman to travel into space.
Although she had an excellent training as a pilot, on her first flight to space she did not perform this role, but instead held the position of investigative cosmonaut.
She was in charge of carrying out various experiments during the week that were docked to the Salyut-7 space station.
On August 27, 1982, the Soyuz T-6 crew returned to the base in Russia, after a flight that had lasted 7 days and 21 hours.
When Svetlana landed happily, engineer Valentin Glushko, one of the top three chief designers of Soviet spacecraft and rockets, enthusiastically exclaimed, “Now the way to space is open to women!“
Thirty years later, a Chinese woman Liu Yang, a fighter pilot, made good use of this path opened by Svetlana Savistkaya.
Svetlana Savitskaya’s second flight into space
On July 17, 1984 Svetlana Savitskaya made her second flight into space as an engineer aboard the Soyuz T-12 spacecraft.
On this occasion she traveled together with cosmonauts Igor Volk and VIadimir Dyanibekov.
Upon reaching their destination, they encountered three other companions who were already installed on the Salyut-7 Space Station.
They were the cosmonauts who had arrived on February 8, 1984, on the Soyuz T-11 ship: Leonid Kizim, Vladimir Soloviov, and Oleg Atkov.
The six cosmonauts made visual observations and took photographs of the southern regions of the Soviet Union (Caspian Sea and Black Sea), analyzed the nearby atmosphere around the orbital station, and subjected themselves to clinical analyzes.
They immediately began working on the project to build a space station that would allow it to be permanently inhabited.
On the last day, the six spent almost four hours outside the orbital station, doing assembly work.
It was the first time that a woman had ever stepped outside of a spaceship.
During her walk outside the Station, Svetlana carried out the first 12 non-automated welds and 6 cuts of pieces of tin, stainless steel, titanium and aluminum in open space.
These high-risk activities required the talent and concentration that only Svetlana Savitskaya as an engineer possessed in that group.
Experts admired how she worked with goldsmith precision when she performed this necessary work to power the orbital station.
On July 26, 1984, cosmonaut Svetlana Savítskaya and her two mission partners returned to the base on land, aboard their Soyuz T-12 spacecraft.
Svetlana Savitskaya after her space flights
After her legendary feat, Svetlana continued as an active cosmonaut and went on to work as a civil engineer at the “Corporation for Science and Energy Production“.
This is an industrial and scientific center for spacecraft and space station components.
In 1989 Svetlana Savistkaya was elected popular deputy of the Soviet Parliament and became increasingly involved in political activity.
Later, she was elected a deputy of the State Duma (lower house of the Russian Parliament), and appointed a member of the Defense Committee.
In that year, she retired from the Group of Cosmonauts.
In 1994 she retired from the “Corporation for Science and Energy Production” and focused fully on political activity.
She is currently a member of the State Duma as a representative of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation.
She is married to Victor Hatkovsky and they have one son: Constantin.
Awards Svetlana Savitskaya Earned
The Soviet Union publicly recognized her merits and rewarded her for her inspiring and momentous feats.
After her second space trip, she received numerous recognitions:
- twice the title Hero of the Soviet Union.
- twice the Order of Lenin.
- a special medal for the record stay of women in space.
- the Order of the Badge of Honor.
- a gold medal.
- 18 diplomas from the International Aeronautical Federation.
- 16 sports medals of the USSR.
- a special medal for overcoming the world record of permanence in open space.
Click here if you want to see this biography in Spanish translation.