On this day June 16, 1963

Aboard Vostok 6, Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space.

After watching the successful launch of Vostok 5 on 14 June, Tereshkova began final preparations for her own flight. On the morning of 16 June 1963, Tereshkova and her back-up 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 flawless two-hour countdown, Vostok 6 launched faultlessly, and Tereshkova became the first woman to fly into space. Her call sign in this flight was Chaika (English: Seagull; Russian: Ча́йка), later commemorated as the name of an asteroid, 1671 Chaika.

Although Tereshkova experienced nausea and physical discomfort for much of the flight,[2] 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 only two days after Vostok 5 which carried Valery Bykovsky into orbit for five days, landing only three hours after Tereshkova. The two vessels were at one point only 5 km apart, and communicated 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, in response to the pressure of impending American Space Shuttle flights with female astronauts. None of the other four in Tereshkova’s cosmonaut group ever flew.

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