16.06.

1963: Valentina Tereshkova: First Woman in Space

1963: Valentina Tereshkova: First Woman in Space
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 16 June 1963
  • The Soviets selected her from among more than 400 applicants, for which the imposed requirements were that they are younger than 30 years of age, lighter than 70 kg, and less than 170 centimeters tall. After returning, Valentina became famous in the USSR and worldwide. She was declared a Hero of the Soviet Union, and attained high Party positions.

On this day the first woman in history, Valentina Tereshkova of Russian nationality, was launched into space.

The Soviets selected her among more than 400 candidates, for which the imposed requirements were that they are younger than 30 years of age, lighter than 70 kg, and less than 170 centimeters tall.

Valentina’s advantages during the selection process was the fact that her father was a war hero who died in battle, and that she was of a proletarian origin.

It is interesting that Valentina, before becoming a cosmonaut (Soviet name for astronaut), was a worker in a textile factory.

She was an amateur skydiver, which was also seen as an advantage during the selection process. She was also the first civilian who was sent into space, because all the cosmonauts before her were professional soldiers.

Of course, as a cosmonaut, Valentina was honorarily admitted to the Soviet Air Force, where she later reached the rank of Major General. The mission on which Valentina was sent on this day was called Vostok 6 and was launched from Baykonur (now in Kazakhstan).

Valentina’s craft orbited the Earth as many as 48 times and landed after 2 days, 22 hours, and 50 minutes. After returning, Valentina became famous in the USSR and worldwide.

She was declared a Hero of the Soviet Union, and attained high Party positions. For a long time, she was a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

She married cosmonaut Andriyan Nikolayev, who was also in space at one time. Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev personally presided over their wedding ceremony.

The next woman was sent into space by the Soviets only 19 years later, and the Americans launched their first female astronaut 20 years after Valentina’s flight.

Tereskova is today still one of the most respected women in Russia and has a celebrity status.

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