The First Woman In Space Turns 80, And You Probably Never Heard Of Her


(WorldKings) On June 18, 1983, the Space Shuttle Challenger launched Sally Ride -- the first female American astronaut -- into space.But that came a full 20 years after Soviet Cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova's pioneering voyage.

Valentina Tereshkova, just prior to her launch aboard Vostok 6 in 1963.

On June 16, 1963, Tereshkova piloted Vostok 6, completing 48 orbits around Earth during her three day mission.

The Vostok 6 capsule that served as Valentina Tereshkova's home for 3 days in 1963.
It was her expertise in skydiving, obtained through the local Aeroclub starting at age 22, that led to her selection.
Astronaut Cady Coleman, Expedition 26 flight engineer, meets with Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman to fly in space, in December 2010. 
Her flight into space, at age 26, is still the record for youngest female astronaut/cosmonaut.
Aboard Vostok 6, her rendezvous with Vostok 5 cosmonaut Valery Bykovsky made them the first cosmonauts aboard different vessels to communicate in space.
Nikita Khrushchev (right), first secretary of the CPSU Central Committee, and cosmonauts Valentina Tereshkova, Pavel Popovich (center) and Yuri Gagarin at the Lenin Mausoleum during a demonstration dedicated to the successful space flights of the Vostok-5 (Valery Bykovsky) and Vostok-6 (Valentina Tershkova) spacecraft.
In cosmonaut history, only Yuri Gagarin and Alexey Leonov are more revered.
When journalists questioned the hardiness of Sally Ride's body for spaceflight, Tereshkova publicly rebuked such sexist claims.
Valentina Tereshkova, pictured as a Major in the Soviet Air Forces back in 1969.
Honorarily inducted into the Air Force so she could join the Cosmonaut Corps, she obtained the rank of Major General by her 1997 retirement.
Today, March 6th, marks her 80th birthday. A prominent political figure, she still serves in the State Duma within the Russian legislature.
Valentina Tereshkova was awarded the Order of Friendship by then-president Dmitry Medvedev on April 12, 2011.
In 2013, she declared she'd still lead a one-way trip to Mars, if the opportunity arose
According to

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