First Woman in Space: Valentina Tereshkova’s Flight

Fifty years ago today — June 16, 1963 — Vostok 6 carried Soviet cosmonaut Valentina V. Tereshkova to orbit from the Baikonur Cosmodrome.


(Valentina Tereshkova. Image from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.)

As noted, Tereshkova was the first woman in space. The Vostok 6 mission was the last in the Soviet Union’s first series of manned spaceflights, and lasted for┬áthree days.

Tereshkova’s flight was concurrent with Vostok 5, which had launched two days earlier carrying cosmonaut Valery F. Bykovsky. The two spacecraft orbited together and maintained radio communications with each other. Both spacecraft de-orbited on June 19th. Tereshkova landed northeast of Karaganda, Kazakhstan, after completing 48 orbits; Bykovsky landed northwest of Karaganda after completing 81 orbits and “[setting] a Soviet manned duration record of 119 hr 6 min.”

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