Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in Space, boasted to a meeting of gifted Russian children, that Russia would be the first to land humans on Mars. She also had some things to say about the fact that the United States is dependent on Russian spacecraft to fly to the International Space Station. She lamented that at the age of nearly 80 she would be too old to embark on such an expedition herself.

Tereshkova flew as the pilot of Vostok 6 on June 16, 1963, and spent almost three days in space for 48 orbits. She added to the string of Soviet space firsts, being the first woman to fly in space.

Sally Ride was the first American woman in space when she flew on the space shuttle on June 18, 1983. Ride, by the way, was the first gay woman (revealed only after her death) to fly in space.

The question arises, is Tereshkova on to something by claiming that the first person on Mars is likely to be Russian? The answer, given the state of the Russian economy, is probably not. Russia is given to making grandiose predictions about future space missions, only to fail to follow through. Certainly, Russian President Vladimir Putin is interested in using that country’s space program to revive the past glories of the Soviet Union.

The United States beat the Soviet Union to the moon, something that helped to spark a chain of events that led to the fall of that empire just over 20 years later.

Currently, Russia and the United States are partners on board the International Space Station. The United States is embarked on the Journey to Mars, though the incoming Trump administration is likely to propose a course correction to the moon along the way. So far, the United States has not forged the kind of extensive international partnerships in its deep space exploration program that has worked so well on the ISS.

Discuss this news on Eunomia

It is very likely that the United States will reach out to other countries to partner with for deep space exploration. President Elect Trump is interested in repairing strained relations with Russia, so such a partnership with that country is possible. So, it could be that a Russian could be included in an expedition to Mars, but it would not be a solely Russian project as Tereshkova envisions.