Space is for everybody.
It’s not just for a few people in math and science,
or for a select group of astronauts. That’s our new frontier out there.
S. Christa McAuliffe
On 13 June 1963, the world’s press was buzzing with mounting speculation about an exciting landmark in space exploration. Informed reports of an imminent spaceflight by a woman cosmonaut were freely sweeping around Moscow. These reports suggested that the history-making flight might last up to eight days and that the woman would not be alone in space. This led to conjecture by Western analysts that the Russians might be ready to launch the first two-seat spacecraft or to engineer another “rendezvous” in space similar to the one flown ten months before. Cosmonauts Yuri Gagarin and Gherman Titov also fueled speculation in a Pravda article by declaring that “both sons and daughters of the Soviet Union” would soon be launched into space.
Relying on unofficial sources, Western newspaper articles described the woman as “good looking, short, strongly built and in her early twenties.” Furthermore, it was rumored that she might be a close friend and even romantically involved with Andrian Nikolayev, the only bachelor among Russia’s four known cosmonauts. Several newspapers confidently named the mystery woman as Anna Massevitch, vice president of the Aeronautic Academy of Science in Moscow. They reproduced her photo alongside their articles, and Massevitch certainly seemed to match the general description.
The following day, quelling some rumors but also increasing speculation, Lt. Col. Valery Bykovsky was launched into space aboard Vostok 5. A taciturn, twenty-eight-year-old air force pilot, Bykovsky successfully rock-