September 17, 2015 / 5:18 PM / 2 years ago

Russia's first lady of space launches London exhibition

LONDON (Reuters) - Posing by the craft that carried her into orbit as the first woman in space, Russia’s Valentina Tereshkova opened a London exhibition on Thursday dedicated to Soviet exploration of the cosmos.

On June 16, 1963, Tereshkova blasted off aboard the Vostok-6 -- 20 years before Sally Ride became the first U.S. woman to travel into space.

The 2.6 tonne Vostok-6 goes on display at “Cosmonauts: Birth of the Space Age”, which London’s Science Museum calls “the greatest collection of Soviet spacecraft and artefacts ever seen outside Russia”.

Tereshkova orbited earth 48 times during her mission. She is said to have shouted “Hey sky, take off your hat! I‘m coming to see you!” during launch.

Speaking of the Vostok-6, she told Reuters: “I look at it with love because it allowed me to work successfully for over three days in orbit.”

She told reporters she had no toothbrush while aboard, and had to make do with using her fingers and toothpaste.

The exhibition also showcases the 5-metre Soviet LK-3 lunar lander, which was designed to take a single cosmonaut to the moon’s surface and which was kept secret until 1989.

Among other items displayed are a space toilet, shower, fridge, a dog ejector seat and suit and a rarely-seen collection of original Soviet space poster art, the museum said.

Russia launched the first artificial satellite into space, the Sputnik, in 1957, followed by the first man, Yuri Gagarin, some four years later.

“I believe this exhibition shows how interesting and important for mankind is the work of people both on the ground and in space,” Tereshkova said.

“It creates the possibility to think about future co-operation between our scientists, our young people who want to fly into space.”

“Cosmonauts: Birth of the Space Age” opens on Friday and runs until March 13.

Reporting by Edward Baran; Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Mark Trevelyan

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