The first woman to travel into space, the Soviet Union's Valentina Tereshkova, was launched into orbit 40 years ago on 16 June 1963 aboard Vostok 6. The first American woman to fly into space, Sally Ride, was launched 20 years ago on 18 June 1983. Of the 429 space travellers, 40 have been female.

Six women - all Amercians - have made five spaceflights. The first non-Russian/non-American in space was the UK's Helen Sharman. The woman with the most space experience is Shannon Lucid, who has been in space for 223 days on five flights, one of 188 days aboard the Shuttle-Mir.

The most experienced Russian in space is Yelena Kondakova with 178 days.

The most experienced non-Russian/non-American is France's Claudie Haignere, with 25 days. Her husband, Jean-Pierre Haignere, has 208 days' experience, which makes them the most space-travelled couple.

Other husbands and wives have flown, but only one couple on the same flight: Mark Lee and Jan Davis on the Shuttle.

The first female flight commander was the Space Shuttle's Eileen Collins.

Source: Flight Daily News