Svetlana Savitskaya's career as a cosmonaut owed much to not only her natural ability but the influence of her father. Yeveniy Savitsky, was the Deputy Commander of the Soviet Air Defences, a World War II air ace, and twice Hero of the Soviet Union. On her parents' insistence, Svetlana took up music, English, and swimming in addition to school classes. She was fond of reading, and also went in for figure skating and running.
She decided to become a pilot at age 16 and applied for training at an amateur flying school without her parentís knowledge. She was rejected due to her age for flight training but began parachute training. Her father discovered her secret when he found a parachute knife in her school bag.
With her father's support she was able to try for a record stratospheric sky dive at the age of 17. She jumped from 14,252 m and fell for 14 km before opening her parachute at 500 m.
By her 17th birthday in 1965 she had completed 450 parachute jumps. At age 18 she began pilot training and enrolled in the premier Soviet aviation engineering school, the Moscow Aviation Institute (MAI). By age 20 she soloed in a YaK-18 trainer.
The British Press called her 'Miss Sensation' in 1970 when she became World Champion as a member of the Soviet National Aerobatics Team at the world aerobatics competition at Hullavington. By 1972 she graduated from MAI and became a flying trainer at DOSAAF (Central Technical Flying School of the USSR Voluntary Society for the Promotion of the Army, Air Force, and Navy). However she pushed to be allowed into test-pilot school. After acceptance, she went on to establish many world records in turbo-prop and supersonic aircraft, including the record of 2683 km/hr female record in a MiG-21 aircraft. She qualified as a pilot on 20 types of aircraft.
After completing her test-pilot training, and membership in the Communist Part of the Soviet Union in 1975, she became a test pilot for the Yakovlev design bureau in 1976.
She was selected as a cosmonaut in 1980, as part of a female team selected to upstage pending female astronaut flights on the space shuttle. She became the second woman in space in 1982, seven months before Sally Ride became the first American female astronaut in space (see the flight log below for details of this and her subsequent flights). She also became the first woman to walk in space. Her later command of an all-female crew to Salyut 7 on the occasion of International Woman's Day was cancelled due to problems with the space station and a limited number of Soyuz T spacecraft available for docking with the station.
Svetlana continued as a Civilian Engineer, at Energia NPO while remaining an active cosmonaut. She was made Deputy to the Chief Designer, Energia, in 1987. She became a Member of Parliament in 1989. In 1993 she left the cosmonaut corps without having made another spaceflight.
Svetlana is married to Viktor Khatkovsky, an engineer and pilot at the Ilyushin aircraft design bureau. Her favourite composers are Beethoven and Tchaikovsky, and her favourite poet is Mikhail Lermentov.
Like other Russian female cosmonauts, she seems to have flown mainly due to her family connections and for propaganda purposes. This in no way diminished her obvious talents and suitability as a pilot cosmonaut.
Docked with Salyut 7. Carried Svetlana Savitskaya, Leonid Popov, Alexander Serebrov to Salyut 7 to conduct scientific and technical research and experiments; returned crew of Soyuz T-5 to Earth. Recovered December 10, 1982 19:03 GMT. Landed 118 km E Dzhezkazgan.
Docked with Salyut 7. Transported a crew comprising ship's commander V A Dzhanibekov, flight engineer S E Savitskaya and cosmonaut-research I P Volk to the Salyut-7 orbital station to conduct scientific and technical studies and experiments. Recovered July 29, 1984 12:55 GMT.
Conducted welding experiments.
To have docked with Mir. Cancelled all-female flight to be launched on International Woman's Day. Breakdown of Salyut 7, exhaustion of stock of Soyuz T spacecraft, and official resistance led to cancellation of the mission. Officially cancelled due to birth of Savitskaya's baby. No female cosmonauts would be in training again until a decade later.