Elena Serova was the first Russian woman to set foot on the International Space Station (ISS) and is now a deputy in the State Duma of the Russian Federation — Euronews caught up with her at the Women's Forum Global Meeting 2018 where she was involved in a roundtable session with fellow female astronauts.
"It had been a long time since the previous woman made this trip and I realised that my flight would affect the future of other girls who want to become cosmonauts as well," said Serova of her first space flight.
She was just the fourth female cosmonaut to reach space in the history of the Russian Space Agency, in the same amount of time over 100 male cosmonauts made the voyage.
For Serova, the lack of female cosmonauts is something that is set to change and she feels now "young women's attitudes towards such jobs are different."
As for the challenges women face during space travel, she thinks both genders are up against many of the same problems.
"We all travel to space as a united team which consists of men and women," the politician said. "If there are emergencies, we find the solution together."
From space to politics
The former cosmonaut received an offer to join the State Duma when she returned from spaceflight.
"It was very unexpected, but weighing up all the pros and cons, I decided to do it," she said.
"Who knows when my next flight will take place, time is running out, I do not want to waste it. As a deputy, I can help many more people than as a cosmonaut."
Serova sees a lot of similarities between the two parts of her career, including the fact that as both a politician and a cosmonaut "even a very small mistake can lead to the catastrophe."
The next generation of cosmonauts
As a child, Serova said her father would take her to make repairs to the car rather than any boys "because I was genuinely interested."
For any young women who would like to follow in her footsteps, she had this advice: "Always believe in themselves and be persistent as well as hardworking in chasing their goals.
"I'm sure they will succeed — they will definitely travel into space."