Remember the Ladies: Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova

“Valentina Tereshkova”. Valentina Tereshkova, pilot-cosmonaut, first female cosmonaut, Hero of the USSR. Pictured as a Major of the Soviet Air Forces (WikiCommons: Commons:RIA Novosti)

“Valentina Tereshkova”. Valentina Tereshkova, pilot-cosmonaut, first female cosmonaut, Hero of the USSR. Pictured as a Major of the Soviet Air Forces (WikiCommons: Commons:RIA Novosti)

Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova (Russian: born 6 March 1937) is 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. In order to join the Cosmonaut Corps, Tereshkova was only honorarily inducted into the Soviet Air Force and thus she also became the first civilian to fly in space.

Before her recruitment as a cosmonaut, Tereshkova was a textile factory assembly worker and an amateur skydiver. 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 referred as a heroine in post-Soviet Russia.

In 2013 she offered to go on a one-way trip to Mars if the opportunity arose. At the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics she was a flag-carrier of the Olympic flag.

Early life
Tereshkova was born in the village of Maslennikovo in Tutayevsky District, Yaroslavl Oblast, in central Russia. Her parents had migrated from Belarus. Tereshkova’s father was a tractor driver and her mother worked in a textile plant. Tereshkova began school in 1945 at the age of eight, but left school in 1953 and continued her education by correspondence courses. She became interested in parachuting from a young age, and trained in skydiving at the local Aeroclub, making her first jump at age 22 on 21 May 1959; at the time, she was employed as a textile worker in a local factory. It was her expertise in skydiving that led to her selection as a cosmonaut. In 1961 she became the secretary of the local Komsomol (Young Communist League) and later joined the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. [See Wikipedia for more…]

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