“I promised that I wouldn’t name [him],” Leonov said.
Conspiracy theories have surrounded the events of that day for years. They included suicide – even a collision with a UFO.
But for all intents and purposes, the case is closed, and the newfound truth should provide those affected with closure. Such is the conclusion of the first woman in space, Russian Valentina Tereshkova. She spoke at a press conference at the UN headquarters in Vienna, where she participated in a conference of the Committee for the Peaceful Use of Outer Space.
“The only regret here is that it took so long for the truth to be revealed,” she said. “But we can finally rest easy.”
Gagarin’s passing was not only a tragedy, but a career-ending moment for Tereshkova. The state simply wouldn’t let her fly anymore, as the possibility of losing a second cosmonaut of such stature would have been simply catastrophic.
“They forbade me from flying ever again, even piloting planes. The repercussions of the death of one cosmonaut were so great that they wanted to keep me safe.”
But the source of Tereshkova’s deepest sadness still lies with Gagarin’s passing. She tried to hold back tears, as she spoke: “I still miss him. It is a loss not only for us cosmonaut colleagues, but for the entire community.”