November 01, 2013

A Cosmic Wedding

On November 3, 1963, Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space, married her fellow cosmonaut, Andriyan Nikolayev. The marriage, which was celebrated with great fanfare, lasted until 1982, 19 years. As Tereshkova put it, her husband had a “difficult personality.”

After the wedding there were rumors that the two had been forced to marry to allow for a very particular kind of experimentation on people who traveled to space. Later, there were also rumors that their child was born with birth defects due to the radiation her parents were exposed to while on missions. In fact, Nikolayev and Tereshkova produced a perfectly healthy daughter who grew up to be a surgeon. As for the rumors of a forced marriage, it is easy to understand their origin. The wedding had all the hallmarks of an official event. The famous aviator, General Nikolai Kamanin, who at the time was head of the cosmonaut training center, described preparations for the wedding and the event itself in his diary.

Yesterday I was informed at 18:00 of Khrushchev’s decision that the Communist Party’s Central Committee and the government of the USSR would hold Tereshkova and Nikolayev’s wedding on November 3 at 13:00 at the House of Receptions, 42 Vorobyovskoye Highway. The number of participants has been set at 180-200 people. The wedding expenses will be covered by the government, but invitations to the wedding feast will be issued in the name of the cosmonauts. The invitation list will be determined by the groom and bride.

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