Valentina Tereshkova was a remarkable parachutist, jumping more than 90 times before the Soviet space program announced an interest in sending a woman to space. An attractive candidate because of her blue-collar background, the daughter of a factory worker and tractor driver, Tereshkova was selected for flight and launched into space on June 16, 1963 on Vostok 6. She remains the only woman ever to fly a solo space mission. Later, she married fellow cosmonaut Andrian Nikolayev, a marriage some say was arranged: they had a daughter, Yelena, the first child born to parents who had both been in space.
Did you know:
- Some 400 women entered the Soviet Union’s training program in the hopes of becoming the first woman in space.
- None of the other four women selected as final cosmonaut candidates ever flew to space.
- The second woman in space, Svetlana Savitskaya, didn’t reach orbit until 1982, one year before American astronaut Sally Ride.
- During Yuri Gagarin’s trip to space, he orbited Earth once; the first four Americans in space orbited a total of 36 times.
- Upon completion of her only trip to space, Tereshkova was bestowed the title Hero of the Soviet Union.
- Her trip to space made the Russians look good, as women weren’t allowed in the US space program at the time.
- Tereshkova became a member of the Supreme Soviet, the Soviet Union’s national parliament, in 1966.
- She also served as a representative on several international women’s organizations on behalf of Russia and the Soviet Union.
- Tereshkova has expressed great interest in traveling to Mars, her favourite planet, even at 80 years of age.
- Upon launch in 1963, Tereshkova shouted, “Hey sky, take off your hat. I’m on my way!”
- History.com, the first woman in space
- RT.com, 8 surprising facts about stellar career of Valentina Tereshkova
- Phys.org, Fifty years ago, Tereshkova became first woman in space
- Vice.com, Valentina Tereshkova Was the First Woman in Space
- Guardian.co.uk, Valentina Tereshkova, 76, first woman in space, seeks one-way ticket to Mars
- Biography.com, Valentina Tereshkova
- Newscientist.com, Why NASA barred women astronauts
- Forbes.com, The First Woman In Space Turns 80, And You Probably Never Heard Of Her