Saturday, February 22, 2020

The First Woman in Space

Have you ever had a dream or got an impression that for whatever reason, grabbed your interest and inspired you to investigate further? This has happened to me a couple of times and the other morning was one of those times. As I was waking up, the words, “Martha Volker— 1st woman in space,” popped into my mind. Well that’s crazy because A), I’ve never heard of a Martha Volker, and B) I have never heard of or ever stopped to consider who held the title of first woman in space. So…off to Google I went.

As it turns out, the first woman in space was Valentina Tereshkova, not Martha Volker. Yet, Tereshkova’s story is so intriguing, I couldn’t help but look further. Valentina was a factory worker and an amateur skydiver. The latter fact qualified her for application for the Soviet space program which was recruiting women based mainly upon one criteria, that they could land in a parachute. Valentina, having completed her first successful jump at age 22, joined a pool of over 400 candidates which was whittled down to four, of which she was the one chosen to be the first Soviet woman to fly in space. And why, you may ask, were the Soviets launching women into space in 1963?

The director of the Soviet space program had heard that the Americans were training women to be astronauts and not to be outdone by their rivals, the Soviets pushed to be the first to put women into a spacecraft. Consider for a moment that the male cosmonauts selected to train were, like their American counterparts, air-force pilots. The women on the other hand were given different qualifications. It was thought that, since the Vostok series of ships were nearly fully automated that all that was required by the recruiting team was to select women who could land a parachute and were under the age of 30. 

As Tereshkova excelled above all other candidates, she was chosen to fly in Vostok 6. Launched into space on June 16, 1963, Tereshkova became not only the first woman in space, she is also recognized as the youngest at age 26, and still holds the record as the only woman in history to fly solo in space. She orbited the earth for 2 days, 22 hours, and 50 minutes. A few days later, on June 22, 1963, she appeared and spoke at Lenin’s Tomb. The Soviets wanted to play up the fact that her father had been killed during the German invasion of 1941 which began that same day, 22 years earlier, and so she announced that fact in her speech. At this point, as each interesting fact was building upon each other, I began to feel a familiar ring, brought on by the numbers involved in Tereshkova’s life story. 

Some may be aware of the odd appearance of the number 2, along with other interesting numeric oddities during the Super Bowl. If not, consider these odd occurrences:

Super Bowl 54:

  • Kansas City Chiefs: 2nd Super Bowl victory with 50 years between wins
  • Coach Andy Reid’s 2nd Super Bowl appearance as coach for 2 NFL teams
  • Coach Andy Reid’s 222nd career win
  • Played on 02/02/2020 (1st perfect palindrome date in 909 years)
  • Played on the 33rd day of the year with 333 days left (leap year 366 days)

These odd facts, in conjunction with the prediction that God would move mightily in the earth when the Chief’s won the Super Bowl, a prediction shared with friends and acquaintances over a period of years by prophet Bob Jones, immediately began to heighten my interest as I saw similar patterns while researching Tereshkova’s story:

  • 2 days, 22 hours, and 50 minutes orbiting the earth
  • First successful parachute jump at age 22
  • Gave a speech and was awarded the Order of Lenin on June 22, 1963 on the 22nd anniversary of the German invasion of 1941
  • While there is a 19 year gap between the 1st and 2nd Russian woman in space, the first American woman in space, Sally Ride, followed 20 years (and 2 days) after Tereshkova’s 

What does all this mean, if anything? I can only share my impression that when I heard “Martha Volker, 1st woman in space,” it held absolutely no significance whatsoever and was so random and obscure, that it caught my attention. Tereshkova's life, on the other hand, seems almost mythic considering that her accomplishments did not end when her space craft splashed down. Instead, she went on to marry a fellow cosmonaut, making their daughter the first human to have both parents having travelled in space. If these milestones were not enough, Valentina Tereshkova continued to excel.

While she entered the space program at the lowest rank, as an air-force private, she advanced in education and rank, earning her masters in aeronautical engineering and eventually rose to the rank of major general in the Soviet air-force. Even beyond these accomplishments, she entered into politics and continues to serve in political office to this day.

And what of Martha Volker? I cannot find any references to anyone of any significance with that name associated with the space program, nor were there any other events or accomplishments associated with anyone of that name. However, the meaning of her name does seem to be in keeping with Tereshkova’ status:

Martha: mistress/leader
Volker: tribe/family/army.

Could this be a time of awakening in the Church, signaled by things as crazy as the stars in the sky and predictions about the Super Bowl given years earlier? Stranger things have happened… Tereshkova’s unlikely life being one of them. In addition, I can’t ignore the contribution that women wish to make in the promotion of the work of God in both the heavens, and right here on the earth. Can a dream and random phrase heard in the time between sleep and consciousness begin to speak to and promote such a thing?

Paul McCartney dreamed the song Yesterday and since then, it has been recorded by more the 2,200 people. Einstein’s famous theory of relativity came to him in a dream during his teens. Peter, quoting Joel, said that God would inspire dreams by the Holy Spirit and so, I choose to believe that we should allow our dreams to make us more inquisitive, and open to consider things we might not consider while we’re awake. One thing is for sure, there are many women who have dreamed of serving God in his Kingdom in a way that might mirror the accomplishments of the 1st woman in space. I have no problem being a part of heralding such a rise.

And just to add one more oddity; when I purposed to present this information, I was not yet conscious of the fact that today is 02/22/20. But, when I did realize it, it seemed even more appropriate that I should move forward and publish it.