The first woman to ever fly into space was a Russian woman called Valentina Tereshkova. She was born on 6th March 1937 in the small rural town named Maslennikovo, Russia.
Valentina only attended part of her schooling and undertook most of her education through correspondence courses, but she was always fascinated with parachuting.
She trained as an amateur skydiver and made her first jump aged 22 years old. At the same time Valentina also became the secretary of the Komsomol (Young Communist League) and later joined the Communist Party.
At 25 yeas old, Valentina was selected for the female cosmonaut corps. She was chosen mainly due to her expertise with parachuting/skydiving, but also met the other criteria, which was being under the age of 30, less than 5ft 7 inches tall and weighing less than 154 pounds.
Valentina was chosen from more than 400 applicants and five finalists to pilot the spacecraft Vostok 6 in 1963.
On the 16th June 1963, Valentina took off on her solo mission and became the first woman to fly in space and as she was only an honorary member of the Soviet Air Force she also became the first civilian to do so.
Valentina spent 3 days in space and orbited Earth 48 times during her flight.
During this time, she made notes of her observations, photographed the horizon and during those three days in space, logged more time in space than the combined total of any American (male) astronauts that had gone before her.
After Valentina returned to Earth, it would be another 19 years before another female would take to orbit. The Soviet Union closed down the all female cosmonaut group in 1969.
After her space flight, Valentina became a well respected politician and engineer. She studied at Zhukovsky Air Force Academy and became a cosmonaut engineer with a PhD in engineering.
She still remains a hero in post Soviet Russia and was honoured as a flag-carrier at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
She’s was also part of the Soviet Unions Peace Council and has been awarded many medals and honours in her lifetime, which includes the Hero of the Soviet Union medal (Russia’s highest medal of honour), the United Nations Medal of Peace and the Simba International Women’s Movement Award.
Valentina Tereshkova is considered to be one of the Soviet Union’s top three cosmonauts, which includes Yuri Gagarin and Alexey Leonov.
The Moon’s Tereshkova Crater was named after her and despite being in her eighties now, she has said that she would be willing to go on a one way trip to Mars if the opportunity ever arose.