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Who Was The First Woman In Space?

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Valentina Tereshkova

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Valentina Tereshkova, pilot-cosmonaut, first female cosmonaut, Hero of the USSR. Pictured as a Major of the Soviet Air Forces.
RIA Novosti Archives/Wikimedia

Answer: Valentina Tereshkova

In the spring of 1963, Valentina Tereshkova was the pilot and sole occupant of Russian spacecraft Vostok 6. As a result of that space flight, Tereshkova has not one but two space exploration honors to her name. Her journey into Earth orbit was the first time that a woman and a civilian had flown into outer space.

Although she had experience as a pilot and parachutist, unlike all previous astronauts and cosmonauts, she was not a member of the military. In order to allow her to fly in the Cosmonaut Corps, she was honorarily inducted into the Soviet Air Force. Her space flight was a success and, over the course of her nearly 3-day stay in space, she logged more time than all American astronauts who had flown prior to that date, combined.

Tests and observations conducted by Tereshkova helped lay the foundation for future female space explorers and she remains the only woman to have been on a solo space mission.