Only three female cosmonauts have traveled into space, but according to Sergei Krikalev, head of Russia’s Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center, that could soon change. Last winter, the nation held its first ever open cosmonaut recruitment drive, and a few Russian women have made it to the final stages.
“A couple of women are close to being selected,” Krikalev told RiaNovosti. “There are chances that they will be.”
So far, Valentina Tereshkova, Svetlana Savitskaya, and Yelena Kondakova are the only Russian women who have traveled into space, with Kondakova’s 1997 mission marking the last journey.
Of the 300 people who applied to be cosmonauts, only 30 – 40 of them were women. Applicants had to be 33 years old or younger, have a college degree and five years of work experience, and a sitting height of 80 to 90 centimeters. Surprisingly, a STEM degree wasn’t required. Men and women with Liberal Arts backgrounds were also welcome to apply.
Russia isn’t the only nation seeking new space recruits. America’s NASA recently completed a recruitment drive of its own and is in the process of reviewing highly-qualified candidates.