Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova from the then Soviet Union was the first woman and first civilian in orbit. On her mission as a cosmonaut, she spent 71 hours orbiting Earth 48 times in June 1963 in her capsule named Chaika (Sea Gull). Ms. Tereshkova was a avid parachuter and she parachuted from her spacecraft after it re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere. To my knowledge, no other person has ever done that. Upon completion of her successful mission Ms. Tereshkova was honored with the following:
- Title of “Hero of the Soviet Union”
- Order of Lenin
- Order of the October Revolution
- United Nations Gold Medal of Peace
- Simba International Women’s Movement Award
- Hero of Socialist Labor in Czechoslovakia
- Hero of Labor of Vietnam
- Hero of Mongolia
Ms. Tershkova was born on March 6, 1937. Following her triumphant space flight, she went on to graduate from the Zhuykosky Air Force Engineering Academy in 1969, and earned a degree in technical science in 1976. She also served in the Communist Party for many years including as President of the Soviet Women’s Committee and as a member of the Supreme Soviet (Parliament).
Today, in her 70s, Valentina Tereshkova remains revered as a Russian hero. Given the scope of her accomplishments, she should be heralded across the planet for her contributions to science and the advancement of women.