June 16, 1963: Valentina Tereshkova becomes the first woman in space.
Two years after Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space, fellow cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, launched on the Vostok 6 spaceflight, became the first woman to do so. Prior to her recruitment as a cosmonaut, Tereshkova was an amateur parachutist, the daughter of a tractor driver and a textile worker (if anything, her humble background made her an even more qualified candidate to represent the women of the Soviet space program).
Tereshkova was relatively young when she ventured into space; at twenty-six, she was exactly ten years younger than the Mercury Seven’s youngest astronaut, Gordon Cooper. After several months of intensive and secretive training, she was nominated and confirmed by Nikita Khrushchev himself to become the first woman in space, and she did so flawlessly on June 16, 1963. She remained in orbit for nearly three days, performing the same tasks as her male counterparts (collecting photographic information, manning her craft), before returning to Earth on June 19. Tereshkova made no further spaceflights after her milestone first, and nearly two decades passed before the Soviet Union ever launched another woman into space. Despite the brevity of her space career, she was not forgotten in her country and received several awards and decorations for her accomplishments - almost immediately after her successful return from space, Tereshkova received the title of “Hero of the Soviet Union”, which was awarded for “heroic feats in service to the Soviet state and society”.
Other links: How Valentina Tereshkova’s spaceflight worked
50 years ago Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space. Initially both Vostok 5 and 6, which flew at the same time, would be piloted by women. Tereshkova would pilot Vostok 5 and Valentina Ponomaryova Vostok 6. However, due to changes in the Sovjet Spaceflight program, Vostok 5 was flown by Bykovsky and Vostok 6 by Tereshkova. She would remain the only woman to have been in orbit for another 19 years.
"Communists blaze the trail to the stars" A stamp set from 1964 commemorating the Soviet Union’s space firsts: first satellite (Sputnik-1957), first pennant on the moon (Luna 2 carried two to the moon-1959), first picture of the dark side of the moon (Luna 3-1959), first man in space (Yuri Gagarin-1961), first group flight (Vostok 3 and 4-1962) and first woman in space (Valentina Tereshkova-1963).
Today is International Women’s Day! Despite having the first woman in space, Valentina Tereshkova in 1963, Russia has only sent two other women into space. Svetlana Savitskaya made a trip to Salyut 7 in 1982 and became the first woman to perform a spacewalk in 1984. Yelena Kondakova was the first woman to be part of a long-duration mission on Mir in 1994. These were just those that made it into space, there were many other women selected.
Yelena Serova and Anna Kikina are part of the active group of cosmonauts. Serova will be part of ISS expeditions 41 and 42 starting in Sept 2014. Kikina is new, she was selected in Oct 2012 and is in basic training for the next two years.
Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova (Russian: Валенти́на Влади́мировна Терешко́ва; born 6 March 1937) is a retired Soviet cosmonaut and the first woman to have flown in space, having been selected from more than four hundred applicants and five finalists to pilot Vostok 6 on 16 June 1963.Before being recruited as a cosmonaut, Tereshkova was a textile factory assembly worker and an amateur parachutist. After the dissolution of the first group of female cosmonauts in 1969, she became a prominent member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, holding various political offices. She remained politically active following the collapse of the Soviet Union and is still revered as a heroine in post-Soviet Russia.……Valentina Tereshkova later became a prominent member of the Soviet government and a well known representative abroad. She was made a member of the World Peace Council in 1966, a member of the Yaroslavl Soviet in 1967, a member of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union in 1966–1970 and 1970–1974, and was elected to the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet in 1974. She was also the Soviet representative to the UN Conference for the International Women’s Year in Mexico City in 1975. She also led the Soviet delegation to the World Conference on Women in Copenhagen and played a critical role in shaping the socialist women’s global agenda for peace. She attained the rank of deputy to the Supreme Soviet, membership of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Central Committee, Vice President of the International Woman’s Democratic Federation and President of the Soviet-Algerian Friendship Society. She was decorated with the Hero of the Soviet Union medal, the USSR’s highest award. She was also awarded the Order of Lenin, Order of the October Revolution, numerous other medals, and foreign orders including the Karl Marx Order, United Nations Gold Medal of Peace and the Simba International Women’s Movement Award. She was also bestowed a title of the Hero of Socialist Labor of Czechoslovakia, Hero of Labor of Vietnam, and Hero of Mongolia. In 1990 she received an honorary doctorate from the University of Edinburgh. Tereshkova crater on the far side of the Moon was named after her.Valentina Tereshkova became the first and still remains to be the only female general officer in both Soviet and Russian armed forces.A full list of Tereshkova’s insane number of awards and medals can be found here.
Some Landing Place Markers
When Soyuz TMA-05M landed this past week, a landing marker was put in, which I had never seen before. So I did a bit of investigating. I wasn’t able to find many like the Soyuz TMA-05M one, most of the markers are permanent statues.
Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova is a retired Soviet cosmonaut, and was the first woman in space. She was selected out of more than four hundred applicants, and then out of five finalists, to pilot Vostok 6 on the 16 June 1963, becoming both the first woman and the first civilian to fly in space, as she was only honorarily inducted into the Soviet Air Force as a condition on joining the Cosmonaut Corps. During her three-day mission, she performed various tests on herself to collect data on the female body’s reaction to spaceflight. Before being recruited as a cosmonaut, Tereshkova was a textile factory assembly worker and an amateur parachutist.