Moon: a Faraway Place for Female Astronauts
It took the whole of 19 years between the 1963 space flight of Valentina Tereshkova and that of another woman (Svetlana Savitskaya in 1982).
That gap was due no doubt to compounding of a male chauvinist Soviet society on top of all the issues encountered during her Vostok 6 flight, clearly only few of them even remotely attributable to her own fault: wrong orbit, problems in handling the equipment, Space Adaptation Syndrome including vomiting, unbearable pain, low food consumption, radio silence, etc etc.
It could have easily been predicted that those issues would become the excuse to ground female astronauts for decades, and that’s exactly what has happened.
Move forward now to 2007 and to the abysmal tragedy of Lisa Nowak, the NASA astronaut with more experience in maneuvering the Space Shuttle’s robotic arm than her own emotions.
Perhaps there is less chauvinism now than in the mid-1960’s…but only time will tell if the Nowak Affair will not become the excuse to prevent women to fly to the Moon until much, much later this century.