Friday, August 4, 2006
Puzzle: Civilians in SpaceThe first part of today's puzzle should be easy for space buffs, but may surprise those whose space information comes from the often uninformed prattle of the legacy media. The question is:
Who was the first civilian to fly in space?To avoid argumentative nitpicking, let's agree that “civilian” means a person who was not a member of an armed service at the time of their flight—a prior military career does not count. NASA astronauts who were military officers were “on assignment” to NASA, but remained military personnel unless they explicitly resigned their commissions and became NASA civilian employees. Further, let us take “fly in space” according to the definition of spaceflight by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI): a flight to an altitude of more than 100 kilometres.
Valentina Tereshkova, who piloted the Vostok 6 mission which was launched on June 16, 1963 and landed on June 19, 1963, becoming the first woman to fly in space (and the last until 1982, when Svetlana Savitskaya became the second). Prior to her flight, Tereshkova was a factory worker and sport parachutist, the latter an important qualification to pilot the Vostok spacecraft, from which the cosmonaut ejected and landed separately with a personnel parachute. After her flight, she attended the Zhukovski Air Force Academy and received a commission in the Soviet Air Force, which eventually promoted her to Major General, but at the time of her flight, she had had no military experience whatsoever. I'm warning you, this next one is much more difficult. I would have gotten it dead wrong before researching this puzzle.
Who was the second civilian to fly in space?
Joseph A. Walker, a NASA/NACA civilian pilot since 1945, who flew the X-15 research aircraft above 100 kilometres on two consecutive missions: Flight 90 on July 19, 1963 and Flight 91 on August 22, 1963, becoming the first person to fly into space twice. The third and fourth civilians to fly in space were Konstantin Feoktistov, an engineer, and Boris Yegorov, a physician, who flew on the Voskhod 1 mission on October 12–13, 1964, commanded by Vladimir Komarov, a Soviet air force colonel.
Posted at August 4, 2006 20:47