The First Woman on a Solo Space Mission Remains a Hero and Record Holder
Editor’s Note: This Women’s History Month, Bumble is celebrating women from all walks of life, across centuries and generations, who didn’t believe in sticking to the rules. These founding members of our First Movers Club didn’t let gender norms — or anything else! — hold them back. They left their mark by making the first move, and the world is a better place thanks to their bravery and boldness.
In 1963, while women in the United States were fighting against sex discrimination, Russian astronaut Valentina Tereshkova was gearing up to be the first woman (and civilian) to fly into space, shattering stereotypes and gender bias in the space industry round the world. After her cosmonaut career concluded, Tereshkova went on to hold various political offices in Soviet Russia including the election to the World Peace Council in 1966. Still alive and living in Moscow, she remains revered as a hero.
After leaving school at the age of 16 and while working as a textile factory worker, Tereshkova nurtured her love of heights by working as an amateur parachutist. She completed 126 jumps, which won her recruitment into the Soviet cosmonaut program.
Tereshkova beat out 400 applicants and five finalists chosen for a women-in-space program. She endured grueling tests to check her reactions to long periods of isolation as well as to extreme and zero-gravity conditions.
Tereshkova was chosen to pilot the aircraft Vostok 6 and exchanged communications with other cosmonauts in space on a different mission.
In a single trip, Tereshkova orbited earth a 48 times and spent a record-breaking 70 hours in space. She is the only woman to have ever been on a solo space flight.
At age 76, she said she’d gladly go on a one-way mission to Mars.
In 2014, Tereshkova carried the Olympic flame for the Winter Olympics opening ceremony.