Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova (Russian: Валенти́на
IPA: [vɐlʲɪnʲˈtʲinə vlɐˈdʲimʲɪrəvnə
tʲɪrʲɪʂˈkovə] ( listen); born 6 March 1937) is a
retired Russian cosmonaut, engineer, and politician. She is the first
woman to have flown in space, having been selected from more than 400
applicants and five finalists to pilot
Vostok 6 on 16 June 1963.
In order to join the
Cosmonaut Corps, Tereshkova was honorarily
inducted into the
Soviet Air Force
Soviet Air Force and thus she also became the first
civilian to fly in space.
Before her recruitment as a cosmonaut, Tereshkova was a
textile-factory assembly worker and an amateur skydiver. After the
dissolution of the first group of female cosmonauts in 1969, she
became a prominent member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union,
holding various political offices. She remained politically active
following the collapse of the
Soviet Union and is regarded as a hero
in post-Soviet Russia and much of the world. Having orbited Earth 48
times, Tereshkova remains the only woman ever to have been on a solo
In 2013, she offered to go on a one-way trip to
Mars if the
opportunity arose. At the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter
Olympics, she was a carrier of the Olympic flag.
1 Early life
2 Career in the Soviet space program
4 Soviet political career
5 Post-Soviet political career
6 Personal life
7 Honours and awards
8 In popular culture
9 See also
11 Further reading
12 External links
Tereshkova was born in the village of Maslennikovo in Tutayevsky
Yaroslavl Oblast, in central Russia. Her parents had
migrated from Belarus. Tereshkova's father was a tractor driver and
her mother worked in a textile plant. Tereshkova went to school in
1945 at the age 8; however, she left school in 1953 at 16 and
continued her education by correspondence courses.
She became interested in parachuting from a young age, and trained in
skydiving at the local Aeroclub, making her first jump at age 22 on 21
May 1959; at the time, she was employed as a textile worker in a local
factory. It was her expertise in skydiving that led to her selection
as a cosmonaut. In 1961, she became Secretary of the local Komsomol
(Young Communist League) and later joined the Communist Party of the
Career in the Soviet space program
Valentina Tereshkova and
Valery Bykovsky among children
After the flight of
Yuri Gagarin in 1961, Sergey Korolyov, the chief
Soviet rocket engineer, came up with the idea of putting a woman in
space. On 16 February 1962,
Valentina Tereshkova was selected to join
the female cosmonaut corps. Out of more than 400 applicants, five were
selected: Tatyana Kuznetsova, Irina Solovyova, Zhanna Yorkina,
Valentina Ponomaryova, and Tereshkova. Qualifications included that
they be parachutists under 30 years of age, under 170 cm
(5 ft 7 in) tall, and under 70 kg (154 lb) in
Tereshkova was considered a particularly worthy candidate, partly due
to her "proletarian" background, and because her father, tank leader
sergeant Vladimir Tereshkov, was a war hero. He died in the Finnish
Winter War during World War II in the Lemetti area in Finnish Karelia
when Tereshkova was two years old. After her mission, she was asked
Soviet Union should thank her for her service to the country.
Tereshkova asked that the government search for, and publish, the
location where her father was killed in action. This was done, and a
monument now stands at the site in Lemetti—now on the Russian side
of the border. Tereshkova has since visited
Finland several times.
Training included weightless flights, isolation tests, centrifuge
tests, rocket theory, spacecraft engineering, 120 parachute jumps and
pilot training in MiG-15UTI jet fighters. The group spent several
months in intensive training, concluding with examinations in November
1962, after which four remaining candidates were commissioned Junior
Lieutenants in the Soviet Air Force. Tereshkova, Solovyova and
Ponomaryova were the leading candidates, and a joint mission profile
was developed that would see two women launched into space, on solo
Vostok flights on consecutive days in March or April 1963.
Originally it was intended that Tereshkova would launch first in
Vostok 5 while Ponomaryova would follow her into orbit in Vostok 6.
However, this flight plan was altered in March 1963.
Vostok 5 would
now carry a male cosmonaut
Valery Bykovsky flying the joint mission
with a woman aboard
Vostok 6 in June 1963. The State Space Commission
nominated Tereshkova to pilot
Vostok 6 at their meeting on 21 May and
this was confirmed by
Nikita Khrushchev himself. Tereshkova was
exactly ten years younger than the youngest
Mercury Seven astronaut,
After watching the successful launch of
Vostok 5 on 14 June,
Tereshkova began final preparations for her own flight. She was 26 at
the time. On the morning of 16 June 1963, Tereshkova and her backup
Solovyova were both dressed in spacesuits and taken to the launch pad
by bus. After completing her communication and life support checks,
she was sealed inside the Vostok. After a two-hour countdown, Vostok 6
launched faultlessly, and Tereshkova became the first woman in
space. Her call sign in this flight was Chaika (English: Seagull;
Russian: Ча́йка), later commemorated as the name of an asteroid,
From left to right: Yuri Gagarin, Pavel Popovich, Valentina
Nikita Khrushchev at the Lenin Mausoleum, during a
celebration honoring the Soviet cosmonauts, 1963
Although Tereshkova experienced nausea and physical discomfort for
much of the flight, she orbited the earth 48 times and spent
almost three days in space. With a single flight, she logged more
flight time than the combined times of all American astronauts who had
flown before that date. Tereshkova also maintained a flight log
and took photographs of the horizon, which were later used to identify
aerosol layers within the atmosphere.
Vostok 6 was the final Vostok flight and was launched two days after
Vostok 5 which carried
Valery Bykovsky into a similar orbit for five
days, landing three hours after Tereshkova. The two vessels approached
each other within 5 km (3.1 mi) at one point, and Tereshkova
communicated with Bykovsky and with Khrushchev by radio.
Even though there were plans for further flights by women, it took 19
years until the second woman, Svetlana Savitskaya, flew into space.
None of the other four in Tereshkova's early group flew, and, in
October 1969, the pioneering female cosmonaut group was dissolved.
In September 1963, Tereshkova donated a silver cup at the women's 1963
European Rowing Championships held in
Khimki near Moscow for the most
successful nation, which went to the team from the
Soviet Union as
they won gold in all five boat classes.
Tereshkova, skiing, 1964
After her flight, Tereshkova studied at the Zhukovsky Air Force
Academy and graduated with distinction as a cosmonaut engineer. In
1977 she earned a doctorate in engineering.
Soviet political career
Due to her prominence, Tereshkova was chosen for several political
positions: from 1966 to 1974 she was a member of the Supreme Soviet of
the Soviet Union, from 1974 to 1989 a member of the Presidium of the
Supreme Soviet, and from 1969 to 1991 she was in the Central Committee
of the Communist Party. In 1997, she was retired from the Russian Air
Force and the cosmonaut corps by presidential order.
Beyond her recognized political offices within the Soviet Union,
Tereshkova also became a well-known representative of the Soviet Union
abroad. She was made a member of the
World Peace Council
World Peace Council in 1966, a
member of the
Yaroslavl Soviet in 1967. She was also the Soviet
representative to the UN Conference for the International Women's Year
Mexico City in 1975. She also led the Soviet delegation to the
World Conference on Women in Copenhagen and played a critical role in
shaping the socialist women's global agenda for peace. She
attained the rank of deputy to the Supreme Soviet, membership of the
Communist Party of the
Soviet Union Central Committee, Vice President
of the International Woman’s Democratic Federation and President of
the Soviet-Algerian Friendship Society.
She was decorated with the Hero of the
Soviet Union medal, the USSR's
highest award. She was also awarded the Order of Lenin, Order of the
October Revolution, numerous other medals, and foreign orders
including the Karl Marx Order, United Nations Gold Medal of Peace and
the Simba International Women’s Movement Award. She was also
bestowed a title of the Hero of Socialist Labor of Czechoslovakia,
Hero of Labor of Vietnam, and Hero of Mongolia. In 1990 she received
an honorary doctorate from the University of Edinburgh. Tereshkova
crater on the far side of the Moon was named after her.
Tereshkova in 1970
Post-Soviet political career
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Tereshkova lost her political
office but none of her prestige. To this day, she is revered as a
hero, and to some her importance in Russian space history is only
Yuri Gagarin and Alexey Leonov. She was elected to the
State Duma, the lower house of the Russian legislature, in 2011 as a
United Russia where she continues to serve.
Tereshkova's life and spaceflight were first written of in the West in
the 1975 book: It Is I, Sea Gull; Valentina Tereshkova, the first
woman in space by Mitchel R. Sharpe and then again in greater
detail of her life and spaceflight in the 2007 book Into That Silent
Sea by Colin Burgess and Francis French, including interviews with
Tereshkova and her colleagues.
Tereshkova was invited to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's residence in
Novo-Ogaryovo for the celebration of her 70th birthday. While there
she said that she would like to fly to Mars, even if it meant that it
was a one-way trip.
On 5 April 2008, she was a torchbearer of the 2008 Summer Olympics
torch relay in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
She received the
Eduard Rhein Ring of Honor from the German Eduard
Rhein Foundation in 2007.
Tereshkova was a carrier of the
Olympic flag at the opening ceremony
Winter Olympics 2014.
The wedding ceremony of pilot-cosmonauts
Valentina Tereshkova and
Andriyan Nikolayev, 3 November 1963.
Andriyan Nikolayev on 3 November 1963 at the
Moscow Wedding Palace with Khrushchev presiding at the wedding party
together with top government and space programme leaders.
On 8 June 1964, nearly one year after her space flight, she gave birth
to their daughter Elena Andrianovna Nikolaeva-Tereshkova, who
became a doctor and was the first person to have both a mother and
father who had travelled into space. She and Nikolayev divorced in
1982. Her second husband, the orthopaedist Yuliy G. Shaposhnikov, died
Honours and awards
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Valentina Tereshkova and Neil Armstrong, 1970
Tereshkova visiting the
Lviv confectionery, 1967
Valentina Tereshkova among delegates at the 24th Congress of the CPSU,
Tereshkova at the Heureka science centre, in Finland, 2002
Valentina Tereshkova and NASA astronaut
Catherine Coleman at the
Cosmonaut Training Center in December 2010.
Order of Merit for the Fatherland;
2nd class (6 March 2007) – for outstanding contribution to the
development of domestic space
3rd class (6 March 1997) – for services to the state and the great
personal contribution to the development of domestic space
Order of Alexander Nevsky
Order of Alexander Nevsky (2013)
Order of Honour (10 June 2003) – for outstanding contribution to the
development and strengthening of international scientific, cultural
and social ties
Order of Friendship
Order of Friendship (12 April 2011) – for outstanding contribution
to the development of national manned space flight and long-term
fruitful public activity
Russian Federation State Prize
Russian Federation State Prize for outstanding achievements in the
field of humanitarian action in 2008 (4 June 2009)
Certificates of appreciation from the Government of the Russian
16 June 2008, – for long-term fruitful state and public activities,
considerable personal contribution to the development of manned space
flight and in connection with the 45th anniversary of spaceflight
12 June 2003, – for large contribution to the development of manned
3 March 1997, – for the contribution to the development of space,
the strengthening of international scientific and cultural ties and
years of diligent work
Honoured Master of Sport (19 June 1963)
Hero of the
Soviet Union (22 June 1963)
Order of Lenin
Order of Lenin (22 June 1963; 6 May 1981) – for making progress on
the development and strengthening of ties with the progressive
community and peace-loving forces of foreign countries
Order of the October Revolution
Order of the October Revolution (1 December 1971)
Order of the Red Banner of Labour
Order of the Red Banner of Labour (5 March 1987) – for social
Order of the Friendship of Peoples
Cosmonaut of the Soviet Union
Other awards – Warsaw Pact
"Gold Star" Hero of Socialist Labour (Czechoslovakia) (August 1963)
"Gold Star" Hero of Socialist Labour (Bulgaria) (Bulgaria, 9 September
Order of Georgi Dimitrov
Order of Georgi Dimitrov (Bulgaria, 9 September 1963)
Order of Karl Marx
Order of Karl Marx (October 1963, East Germany)
Medal of Becker (October 1963, East Germany)
Cross of Grunwald, 1st class (October 1963, Poland)
Order of the National Flag with diamonds (Hungary, April 1965)
Order "For Achievements in Science" (Romania, 17 November 1973)
Medal "For Strengthening Brotherhood in Arms" (Bulgaria, 1976)
Order of Klement Gottwald
Order of Klement Gottwald (Czechoslovakia)
Order of Tri Shakti Patta, 1st class (Nepal, November 1963)
Star of the Republic of Indonesia, 2nd class (November 1963)
Order of the Volta
Order of the Volta (Ghana, January 1964)
"Gold Soyombo" Hero of Labour (Mongolia)
Order of Sukhbaatar (Mongolia, May 1965)
Order of the Enlightenment (Afghanistan, August 1969)
Order of Planets (Jordan, December 1969)
Order of the Nile
Order of the Nile (Egypt, January 1971)
Hero of Labour (Vietnam)
Hero of Labour (Vietnam) (October 1971)
Order of Bernardo O'Higgins
Order of Bernardo O'Higgins (Chile, March 1972)
Order of the Yugoslav Flag with sash (November 1972)
Grand Cross of the Order of the Sun (Peru, 1974)
Order of Playa Girón
Order of Playa Girón (Cuba, 1974)
Order of Ana Betancourt (Cuba, 1974)
Order of Duke Branimir, with sash (Croatia, 17 February 2003)
Scientific, social and religious organizations
Gold Medal, Tsiolkovsky Academy of Sciences of the USSR
Gold Medal of the British Society for interplanetary communications
"For achievements in space exploration" (February 1964)
Gold Medal of the "Cosmos" (FAI)
Award Galambera Astronautics
Gold Medal of Peace Joliot-Curie (France, 1964)
Order "Wind Rose" International Committee of the National Aeronautics
and Space Missions
"Golden mimosa" of the Italian Union of Women (1963)
Sign of the
Komsomol "For active in the League" (1963)
Gold Medal Exhibition of Economic Achievements (28 June 1963)
DOSAAF (1 July 1963)
Order of St. Euphrosyne, Grand Duchess of Moscow, 2nd class (2008)
Yaroslavl (Russia), Karaganda,
Baikonur (Leninsk, Kazakhstan,
Gyumri (Leninakan, Armenia, 1965),
Vitebsk (Belarus, 1975),
Drancy (France), Montgomery (UK), Polizzi
Generosa (Italy), Darkhan (Mongolia, 1965), Sofia, Burgas, Petrich,
Stara Zagora, Pleven,
Varna (Bulgaria, 1963),
Various locations and monuments have been named after Valentina
A lunar crater, Tereshkova
A minor planet 1671 Chaika
Many streets in Vitebsk, Volokolamsk, Grodno, Irkutsk, Ishimbay,
Kemerovo, Klin, Korolyov, Lipetsk, Mytishchi, Ardatov, Novosibirsk
(Akademgorodok), Novocheboksarsk, Odessa, Orenburg, Yaroslavl,
Gudermes (Chechen Republic)
A square in Tver
School number 32 in Yaroslavl, where she studied
Museum of Tereshkova "Cosmos" near her native village
Bayevsky District of Altai Territory, Siberia, close to
her landing place of 53°N, 80°E.
"Greatest woman of 20th century"
Cosmonaut monument in Moscow
Monument planned at Tereshkova's birthplace in Yaroslavl
Yaroslavl Planetarium (7 April 2011)
In popular culture
In 1997, London-based electronic pop group
Komputer released a song
entitled "Valentina" which gives a more-or-less direct account of her
career as a cosmonaut. It was released as a single and appears on
their album The World of Tomorrow. The band Public Service
Broadcasting has a song entitled "Valentina" on their 2015 album The
Race for Space in tribute to her. In the same year, Findlay Napier's
album VIP: Very Interesting Persons included a song "Valentina",
written in her honour by Napier and Boo Hewerdine.
In season three of Orange is the New Black, Red describes Tereshkova
as her hero, and notes her focus in wanting to travel to Mars, despite
being in her seventies.
In 2015, a short film entitled Valentina's Dream was released by Meat
Bingo Productions. The film stars
Rebecca Front as Tereshkova and is
based on an interview by the former cosmonaut where she expressed a
desire to journey to Mars.
The 2007 video game
Mass Effect included a fictional star system named
Streets in Ukraine that bore Tereshkova's name have been renamed due
to the country's 2015 decommunization law.
The 2015 space flight simulator
Kerbal Space Program
Kerbal Space Program features a pilot
Kerbal named Valentina in her honor.
The 2017 mobile RPG Alliance: Heroes of the Spire has a hero named
"Valentina, the Star Pioneer" in honor of Tereshkova.
The BBC drama ‘’Call the Midwife’’ (Season 7, Episode 4;
broadcast 11 February 2018) used the space flight of Tereshkova as an
example of heroism by a woman.
List of female astronauts
List of female Heroes of the Soviet Union
^ "Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova".
Yaroslavl Region. 2016.
Retrieved 3 April 2016.
^ "First female astronaut
Valentina Tereshkova wants one-way Mars
ticket". News.com.au. 9 June 2013. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
^ "Першая жанчына‑касманаўт ў
дзяцінстве гаварыла па‑беларуску" [The
first woman in space spoke Belarusian as a child].
Nasha Niva (in
Belarusian). 24 April 2009. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
^ "Valentina Tereshkova". StarChild: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
2016. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
Vladimir Putin of Russia Congratulates Valentina
Tereshkova, First Woman In Space on 80th Birthday". YouTube.com.
Russia Today. 6 March 2017. Retrieved 7 March 2017.
^ Ghosh, Pallab (17 September 2015). "Valentina Tereshkova: USSR was
'worried' about women in space". BBC News. Retrieved 3 April
^ a b Sever, Megan (June 2014). "June 16, 1963 & June 18, 1983:
Valentina Tereshkova and Sally Ride Become First and Third Women in
Space". Earth. 59 (6): 60–61. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
^ Burgis, Colin; Vis, Bert (2015). Interkosmos: The Eastern Bloc's
Early Space Program. Springer Paxis Books.
^ Knapton, Sarah (17 September 2015). "Russia forgot to send
toothbrush with first woman in space". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved
3 April 2016.
^ Knight, Kelly (June 2003). "Earth calling Seagull". Astronomy. 31
^ "Валентина Терешкова: чьей воле
покорялась женщина, покорившая
космос" [Valentina Tereshkova: the Woman who Conquered Space].
RIA Novosti (in Russian). 16 June 2006. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
^ Kennedy, Maev (17 September 2015). "First woman in space recalls
mission's teething troubles". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 April
^ Tereshkova, Valentina (4 January 1964). "Three days in outer space".
The Saturday Evening Post. 237 (1): 62–63.
^ "Fünf Europatitel für UdSSR-Ruderinnen".
Neues Deutschland (in
German). 18 (247). 9 September 1963. p. 6. Retrieved 13 January
2018. (Registration required (help)).
^ Ghodsee, Kristen (Winter 2012). "Rethinking State Socialist Mass
Women's Organizations: The Committee of the Bulgarian Women's Movement
and the United Nations Decade for Women, 1975-1985". Journal of
Women's History. Johns Hopkins University Press. 24 (4): 49–73.
^ "Терешкова Валентина Владимировна"
[Tereshkova, Valentina Vladimirovna]. The
State Duma of the Federal
Assembly of the Russian Federation. 2016. Retrieved 3 April
^ Sharpe, Mitchell R. (1975). "It is I, Sea gull;": Valentina
Tereshkova, first woman in space. Crowell.
^ "First woman in space dreams of flying to Mars". Reuters. 6 March
2007. Retrieved 26 May 2008.
^ "Олимпийский огонь понесут Друзь,
Фрейндлих и Плющенко".
Komsomolskaya Pravda (in
Russian). 16 October 2012. Retrieved 4 March 2013.
Eduard Rhein Ring of Honor Recipients". Eduard Rhein
Foundation. Archived from the original on 18 July 2011. Retrieved 5
^ "Ring of Honor 2007 – Dr. techn. Dr.h.c.mult. Valentina V.
Eduard Rhein Foundation (in German). Archived from the
original on 18 July 2011. Retrieved 5 February 2011.
^ Eidelman, Tamara (2013). "A Cosmic Wedding". Russian Life. 56 (6):
^ Feldman, Heather (2003). Valentina Tereshkova: The First Woman in
Space. Rosen Publishing Group. ISBN 0-8239-6246-6.
^ "The Japan News". the-japan-news.com.
^ Rosen, Rebecca J. (16 June 2013). "The Remote Siberian Monument to
the First Woman in Space, Who Launched 50 Years Ago Today". The
Atlantic. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
^ Cris Converse (3 March 2016).
Mass Effect Game Guide. Booksmango.
pp. 60–61. ISBN 978-1-63323-677-6.
^ (in Ukrainian) Muscovite renamed all the streets Valentina
Ukrayinska Pravda (12 April 2016)
Kerbal Space Program
Kerbal Space Program [@KerbalSpaceP] (24 February 2015). "@xZise
She's named after Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space"
(Tweet) – via Twitter.
Bill O’Neil, "Whatever became of Valentina Tereshkova?" New
Scientist 8/14/93, Vol. 139, Issue 1886p. 21.
A. Lothian, Valentina: The First Woman in Space, The Pentland Press,
1993, ISBN 978-1858210643.
Tamara Eidelman, "The First Woman in Space," Russian Life. May/Jun
2008, Vol. 51, Issue 3, p. 19-21.
Tamara Eidelman, "The Extraordinary Destiny of an ‘Ordinary’
Woman," Russian Life. May/June 2003, Vol. 46, Issue 3, p.19.
Daniel Gauthier, "Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova." Ad Astra.
Jul/Aug 1991, Vol. 3, Issue 6, p. 29.
Robert Griswold, ""Russian Blonde in Space": Soviet Women in the
American Imagination, 1950-1965." Journal of Social History. Summer
2012, Vol. 45, Issue 4, p.881-907.
Laira Woodmansee, "Two who dared," Ad Astra. Summer 2005, Vol. 17,
Issue 2, p. 48-48.
"First woman in space" at History.com
Valentina Tereshkova, The First Lady of Space: In Her Own Words,
spacebusiness.com, October 2015
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Valentina Tereshkova.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Commons:RIA Novosti/Tereshkova.
BBC: Tereshkova received the Greatest Woman of the Century Award
RSC Energia Biography of Tereschkova including a comprehensive list of
awards and honors.
Biography of Tereshkova
Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova: The First Woman in Space
Concept album inspired by Tereshkova's pioneering achievements, by
"Testing of rocket and space technology - the business of my life"
Events and facts - A.I. Ostashev, Korolyov, 2001.;
"Bank of the Universe" - edited by Boltenko A. C., Kiev, 2014.,
publishing house "Phoenix", ISBN 978-966-136-169-9
A.I. Ostashev, Sergey Pavlovich Korolyov - The Genius of the 20th
Century — 2010 M. of Public Educational Institution of Higher
Professional Training MGUL ISBN 978-5-8135-0510-2.
"S. P. Korolev. Encyclopedia of life and creativity" - edited by C. A.
Lopota, RSC Energia. S. P. Korolev, 2014 ISBN 978-5-906674-04-3
The official website of the city administration
Baikonur - Honorary
citizens of Baikonur
ISNI: 0000 0000 7835 6307
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