Svetlana Savitskaya was born in Moscow on 8th August 1948. She was the daughter of a decorated Russian World War II air ace, and Svetlana followed in her father’s footsteps by graduating to become a test pilot.
In July 1980, she was selected for Cosmonaut training and completed what were undeniably hard training programmes for both the Soyuz spacecraft, and also the Salyut Space Station. Just over two years later, Svetlana was a member of the Soyuz T-7 crew (the 45th Soyuz mission) and in taking off from Baikonur in August 1982, she became only the second woman to fly in space—the first was fellow Russian Valentina Tereshkova in 1963 and Svetlana preceded the first female American astronaut, Sally Ride, by seven months.
During the flight, Svetlana carried out a number of scientific experiments and returned to earth just under eight days after launch as a national hero.
On 17th July 1984, Svetlana became the first woman to fly a second space mission when Soyuz T-12 launched a mission to conduct maintenance on Salyut 7. During the mission Svetlana conducted more experiments and completed external repairs to the space station—becoming the first (and to-date only) woman to complete a spacewalk in so doing.
In 1993, she retired from the Cosmonaut Corps and the Russian Air Force—in which she had reached the rank of Major—and Svetlana (who is married with one child) has subsequently become a high-ranking official in the Russian Federation Communist Party.
In Britain, Svetlana Savitskaya would today be eligible for free bus travel, but instead, we are wishing С днём рождения to a pioneer of an altogether different form of transport.