Sunday 16 June marks the 50th anniversary of the first time a women flew in space. For on 16 June 1963, Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman to be launched into orbit as part of the Soviet Union’s Vostok 6 mission. As a factory worker from a peasant family, Tereshkova was selected partly due to her parachuting experience (she had made 90 jumps). Tereskkova’s 48-orbit flight lasted over three days. It coincided with Vostok 5 which was already in orbit and Tereshkova managed to make radio contact with Vostok 5′s cosmonaut pilot Valery Bykovsky,
Tereshkova had to deal with some anomalies on her mission incuding the Vostok craft’s orbit being raised when it should been lowered on the first day of the flight due to a control programme error. This was corrected. Valentina Tereshkova had her ejection seat/parachute landing some several kilometres off course in the Altai region of Siberia due to high winds.
It was not until the early 1980s that women flew into space again. USA did not launch its first female astronaut, Sally Ride, until 1983.
Valentina Tereshkova Courtesy: Roscosmos/ESA