Skip to main content
Select Source:

Tereshkova, Valentina

Valentina Tereshkova

Born: March 6, 1937
Maslennikovo, Russia

Russian cosmonaut

Valentina Tereshkova was the first woman in space, orbiting the earth forty-eight times in Vostok VI in 1963. She orbited the Earth for almost three days, showing that women have the same ability in space as men. Later she toured the world promoting Soviet science and feminism. She also served on the Soviet Women's Committee and the Supreme Soviet Presidium (government committee).

Early years

Valentina Vladimirovna "Valya" Tereshkova was born on March 6, 1937, in the Volga River village of Maslennikovo. Her father, Vladimir Tereshkov, was a tractor driver. He had been a Russian Army soldier during World War II (193945; a war fought mostly in Europe that pitted Great Britain, France, the United States, and the Soviet Union against Italy, Germany, and Japan). He was killed during the war when Valentina was two. Her mother Elena Fyodorovna Tereshkova was a worker at the Krasny Perekop cotton mill. She single-handedly raised Valentina, her brother Vladimir, and her sister Ludmilla in economically trying conditions. Valentina helped her mother at home and was not able to begin school until she was ten.

Tereshkova later moved to her grandmother's home in nearby Yaroslavl, where she worked as an apprentice at a tire factory in 1954. In 1955 she joined her mother and sister as a loom operator at the cotton mill. Meanwhile, she took correspondence courses (courses taught through the mail) and graduated from the Light Industry Technical School. An ardent communist (believer that there should be no private property), she joined the mill's Komsomol (Young Communist League) and soon advanced to the Communist Party.

Joins space program

In 1959 Tereshkova joined the Yaroslavl Air Sports Club and became a skilled amateur (nonprofessional) parachutist. Inspired by the flight of Yuri Gagarin (19341968), the first man in space, she volunteered for the Soviet space program. Although she had no experience as a pilot, her achievement of 126 parachute jumps gained her a position as a cosmonaut (Russian astronaut) in 1961. At the time the Russian space program was looking for people with parachuting experience, because cosmonauts had to parachute from their capsules after they came back into Earth's atmosphere.

Five candidates were chosen for a onetime woman-in-space flight. Tereshkova received a military rank in the Russian air force. She trained for eighteen months before becoming chief pilot of the Vostok VI. All candidates underwent a rigorous (difficult) course of training, which included tests to determine the effects of being alone for long periods, tests with machines made to create extreme gravity conditions, tests made to duplicate the zero gravity weightless conditions in space, and parachute jumps.

Admiring fellow cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin was quoted as saying, "It was hard for her to master rocket techniques, study spaceship designs and equipment, but she tackled the job stubbornly and devoted much of her own time to study, poring over books and notes in the evening."

Into space

At 12:30 p.m. on June 16, 1963, Junior Lieutenant Tereshkova became the first woman to be launched into space. Using her radio callsign (nickname) Chaika (Seagull), she reported, "I see the horizon. A light blue, a beautiful band. This is the Earth. How beautiful it is! All goes well."

Tereshkova was later seen smiling on Soviet and European TV, pencil and logbook floating weightlessly before her face. Vostok VI made forty-eight orbits (1,200,000 miles) in 70 hours, 50 minutes, coming within 3.1 miles of the previously launched Vostok V, which was piloted by cosmonaut Valery Bykovsky. By comparison, the four American astronauts who had been in space before this flight had a combined total of thirty-six orbits.

Tereshkova's flight confirmed Soviet test results that women had the same resistance as men to the physical and psychological stresses of space. In fact, tests showed that women could actually tolerate G-forces (gravitational forces) better than men.

Upon her return Tereshkova and Bykovsky were hailed in Moscow's Red Square, a large plaza in Moscow used for official celebrations. On June 22 at the Kremlin she was named a Hero of the Soviet Union. Presidium Chairman Leonid Brezhnev (19061982) decorated her with the Order of Lenin and the Gold Star Medal.

A symbol of the liberated Soviet woman, Tereshkova toured the world as a goodwill ambassador, promoting the equality of the sexes in the Soviet Union. She received a standing ovation at the United Nations. With Gagarin, she traveled to Cuba in October as a guest of the Cuban Women's Federation and then went to the International Aeronautical Federation Conference in Mexico.

Unfortunately, Tereshkova and the other female Russian cosmonauts were not taken as seriously inside the Soviet Union as they were outside. The Russians used the female cosmonauts for publicity purposes to show how women were treated equally in their country. In truth, however, they were never thought of as the equals of the "regular," that is, male, cosmonauts, and they never received the same quality of flight assignments.

After Tereshkova's flight

On November 3, 1963, Tereshkova married Soviet cosmonaut Colonel Andrian Nikolayev, who had orbited the earth sixty-four times in 1962 in the Vostok III. Their daughter, Yelena Adrianovna Nikolayeva, was born on June 8, 1964. Doctors, who were fearful of her parents' space exposure, carefully studied the girl, but no ill effects were found.

Tereshkova, after her flight, continued as an aerospace engineer in the space program. She also worked in Soviet politics, feminism, and culture. She was a deputy to the Supreme Soviet between 1966 and 1989, and a people's deputy from 1989 to 1991. Meanwhile, she was a member of the Supreme Soviet Presidium from 1974 to 1989. During the years from 1968 to 1987, she also served on the Soviet Women's Committee, becoming its head in 1977. Tereshkova headed the USSR's International Cultural and Friendship Union from 1987 to 1991, and later chaired the Russian Association of International Cooperation.

Tereshkova summarized her views on women and science in an article titled "Women in Space," which she wrote in 1970 for the American journal Impact of Science on Society. In that article she said, "I believe a woman should always remain a woman and nothing feminine should be alien to her. At the same time I strongly feel that no work done by a woman in the field of science or culture or whatever, however vigorous or demanding, can enter into conflict with her ancient 'wonderful mission'to love, to be lovedand with her craving for the bliss of motherhood. On the contrary, these two aspects of her life can complement each other perfectly."

Valentina Tereshkova still serves as a model not only for the women of her native country, but for women throughout the world who wish to strive for new goals.

For More Information

Lothian, A. Valentina: First Woman in Space. Edinburgh: Pentland Press, 1993.

O'Neill, Lois Decker. "Farthest Out of All: The First Woman in Space," in Women's Book of World Records and Achievements. Garden City, NY: Doubleday/Anchor Press, 1979, pp. 739740.

Sharpe, Mitchell R. "It Is I, Sea Gull": Valentina Tereshkova, First Woman in Space. New York: Crowell, 1975.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Tereshkova, Valentina." UXL Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Tereshkova, Valentina." UXL Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 19, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/tereshkova-valentina

"Tereshkova, Valentina." UXL Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Retrieved August 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/tereshkova-valentina

Valentina Tereshkova

Valentina Tereshkova

Valentina Tereshkova (born 1937) was the first woman in space, orbiting the earth 48 times in Vostok VI in 1963.

Valentina Tereshkova was the first woman in space. Tereshkova took off from the Tyuratam Space Station in the Vostok VI in 1963, and orbited the Earth for almost three days, showing women had the same resistance to space as men. She then toured the world promoting Soviet science and feminism, and served on the Soviet Women's Committee and the Supreme Soviet Presidium. Valentina Vladimirovna "Valya" Tereshkova was born on March 6, 1937, in the Volga River village of Maslennikovo. Her father, Vladimir Tereshkov, was a tractor driver; a Red Army soldier during World War II, he was killed when Valentina was two. Her mother Elena Fyodorovna Tereshkova, a worker at the Krasny Perekop cotton mill, singlehandedly raised Valentina, her brother Vladimir and her sister Ludmilla in economically trying conditions; assisting her mother, Valentina was not able to begin school until she was ten.

Tereshkova later moved to her grandmother's home in nearby Yaroslavl, where she worked as an apprentice at the tire factory in 1954. In 1955, she joined her mother and sister as a loom operator at the mill; meanwhile, she graduated by correspondence courses from the Light Industry Technical School. An ardent Communist, she joined the mill's Komsomol (Young Communist League), and soon advanced to the Communist Party.

In 1959, Tereshkova joined the Yaroslavl Air Sports Club and became a skilled amateur parachutist. Inspired by the flight of Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, she volunteered for the Soviet space program. Although she had no experience as a pilot, her 126-jump record gained her a position as a cosmonaut in 1961. Four candidates were chosen for a one-time woman-in-space flight; Tereshkova received an Air Force commission and trained for 18 months before becoming chief pilot of the Vostok VI. Admiring fellow cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin was quoted as saying, "It was hard for her to master rocket techniques, study spaceship designs and equipment, but she tackled the job stubbornly and devoted much of her own time to study, poring over books and notes in the evening."

At 12:30 PM on June 16, 1963, Junior Lieutenant Tereshkova became the first woman to be launched into space. Using her radio callsign Chaika (Seagull), she reported, "I see the horizon. A light blue, a beautiful band. This is the Earth. How beautiful it is! All goes well." She was later seen smiling on Soviet and European TV, pencil and logbook floating weightlessly before her face. Vostok VI made 48 orbits (1, 200, 000 miles) in 70 hours, 50 minutes, coming within 3.1 miles of the previously launched Vostok V, piloted by cosmonaut Valery Bykovsky. Tereshkova's flight confirmed Soviet test results that women had the same resistance as men to the physical and psychological stresses of space.

Upon her return, she and Bykovsky were hailed in Moscow's Red Square. On June 22 at the Kremlin she was named a Hero of the Soviet Union and was decorated by Presidium Chairman Leonid Brezhnev with the Order of Lenin and the Gold Star Medal. A symbol of emancipated Soviet feminism, she toured the world as a goodwill ambassador promoting the equality of the sexes in the Soviet Union, receiving a standing ovation at the United Nations. With Gagarin, she travelled to Cuba in October as a guest of the Cuban Women's Federation, and then went to the International Aeronautical Federation Conference in Mexico.

On November 3, 1963, Tereshkova married Soviet cosmonaut Colonel Andrian Nikolayev, who had orbited the earth 64 times in 1962 in the Vostok III. Their daughter Yelena Adrianovna Nikolayeva was born on June 8, 1964, and was carefully studied by doctors fearful of her parents' space exposure, but no ill effects were found. After her flight, Tereshkova continued as an aerospace engineer in the space program; she also worked in Soviet politics, feminism and culture. She was a Deputy to the Supreme Soviet between 1966 and 1989, and a People's Deputy from 1989 to 1991. Meanwhile, she was a member of the Supreme Soviet Presidium from 1974 to 1989. During the years from 1968 to 1987, she also served on the Soviet Women's Committee, becoming its head in 1977. Tereshkova headed the USSR's International Cultural and Friendship Union from 1987 to 1991, and subsequently chaired the Russian Association of International Cooperation.

Tereshkova summarized her views on women and science in her 1970 "Women in Space" article in the American journal Impact of Science on Society: "I believe a woman should always remain a woman and nothing feminine should be alien to her. At the same time I strongly feel that no work done by a woman in the field of science or culture or whatever, however vigourous or demanding, can enter into conflict with her ancient 'wonderful mission'—to love, to be loved—and with her craving for the bliss of motherhood. On the contrary, these two aspects of her life can complement each other perfectly."

Further Reading

Drexel, John, editor, Facts on File Encyclopedia of the 20th Century, Facts on File, 1991, pp. 884-885.

O'Neill, Lois Decker, "Farthest Out of All: The First Woman in Space, " in Women's Book of World Records and Achievements, Anchor Books, 1979, pp. 739-740.

Sharpe, Mitchell, "It is I, Sea Gull": Valentina Tereshkova, First Woman in Space, Crowell, 1975.

Uglow, Jennifer S., editor, The International Dictionary of Women's Biography, Continuum, 1982, p. 461.

"Soviets Orbit Woman Cosmonaut, " in New York Times, June 17, 1963, pp. 1, 8.

"2 Russians Land in Central Asia after Space Trip, " in New York Times, June 20, 1963, pp. 1, 3. □

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Valentina Tereshkova." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Valentina Tereshkova." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 19, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/valentina-tereshkova

"Valentina Tereshkova." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Retrieved August 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/valentina-tereshkova

Tereshkova, Valentina (1937- )

Tereshkova, Valentina (1937- )

Russian cosmonaut

Valentina Tereshkova was the first woman in space . Tereshkova took off from the Tyuratam Space Station in the Vostok VI in 1963 and orbited the Earth for almost three days, showing women had the same resistance to space as men. She then toured the world promoting Soviet science and feminism, and served on the Soviet Women's Committee and the Supreme Soviet Presidium. Valentina Vladimirovna "Valya" Tereshkova was born in the Volga River village of Maslennikovo. Her father, Vladimir Tereshkov, was a tractor driver; a Red Army soldier during World War II, he was killed when Valentina was two. Her mother Elena Fyodorovna Tereshkova, a worker at the Krasny Perekop cotton mill, single-handedly raised Valentina, her brother Vladimir, and her sister Ludmilla in economically trying conditions. Assisting her mother, Valentina was not able to begin school until she was ten.

Tereshkova later moved to her grandmother's home in nearby Yaroslavl, where she worked as an apprentice at the tire factory in 1954. In 1955, she joined her mother and sister as a loom operator at the mill; meanwhile, she graduated by correspondence courses from the Light Industry Technical School. An ardent Communist, she joined the mill's Komsomol

(Young Communist League), and soon advanced to the Communist Party.

In 1959, Tereshkova joined the Yaroslavl Air Sports Club and became a skilled amateur parachutist. Inspired by the flight of Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, she volunteered for the Soviet space program. Although she had no experience as a pilot, her 126-jump record gained her a position as a cosmonaut in 1961. Four candidates were chosen for a one-time woman-in-space flight; Tereshkova received an Air Force commission and trained for 18 months before becoming chief pilot of the Vostok VI. Admiring fellow cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin was quoted as saying, "It was hard for her to master rocket techniques, study spaceship designs and equipment, but she tackled the job stubbornly and devoted much of her own time to study, poring over books and notes in the evening."

At 12:30 PM on June 16, 1963, Junior Lieutenant Tereshkova became the first woman to be launched into space. Using her radio callsign Chaika (Seagull), she reported, "I see the horizon. A light blue, a beautiful band. This is the Earth. How beautiful it is! All goes well." She was later seen smiling on Soviet and European TV, pencil and logbook floating weightlessly before her face. Vostok VI made 48 orbits (1,200,000 miles) in 70 hours, 50 minutes, coming within 3.1 miles of the previously launched Vostok V, piloted by cosmonaut Valery Bykovsky. Tereshkova's flight confirmed Soviet test results that women had the same resistance as men to the physical and psychological stresses of space.

Upon her return, she and Bykovsky were hailed in Moscow's Red Square. On June 22, at the Kremlin, she was named a Hero of the Soviet Union and was decorated by Presidium Chairman Leonid Brezhnev with the Order of Lenin and the Gold Star Medal. A symbol of emancipated Soviet feminism, she toured the world as a goodwill ambassador promoting the equality of the sexes in the Soviet Union, receiving a standing ovation at the United Nations. With Gagarin, she traveled to Cuba in October as a guest of the Cuban Women's Federation, and then went to the International Aeronautical Federation Conference in Mexico.

On November 3, 1963, Tereshkova married Soviet cosmonaut Colonel Andrian Nikolayev, who had orbited the earth 64 times in 1962 in the Vostok III. Their daughter Yelena Adrianovna Nikolayeva was born on June 8, 1964, and was carefully studied by doctors fearful of her parents' space exposure, but no ill effects were found. After her flight, Tereshkova continued as an aerospace engineer in the space program; she also worked in Soviet politics, feminism, and culture. She was a Deputy to the Supreme Soviet between 1966 and 1989, and a People's Deputy from 1989 to 1991. Meanwhile, she was a member of the Supreme Soviet Presidium from 1974 to 1989. During the years from 1968 to 1987, she also served on the Soviet Women's Committee, becoming its head in 1977. Tereshkova headed the USSR's International Cultural and Friendship Union from 1987 to 1991, and subsequently chaired the Russian Association of International Cooperation.

Tereshkova summarized her views on women and science in her 1970 "Women in Space" article in the American journal Impact of Science on Society : "I believe a woman should always remain a woman and nothing feminine should be alien to her. At the same time I strongly feel that no work done by a woman in the field of science or culture or whatever, however vigorous or demanding, can enter into conflict with her ancient 'wonderful mission'to love, to be lovedand with her craving for the bliss of motherhood. On the contrary, these two aspects of life can complement each other perfectly."

See also Spacecraft, manned

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Tereshkova, Valentina (1937- )." World of Earth Science. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Tereshkova, Valentina (1937- )." World of Earth Science. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 19, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/tereshkova-valentina-1937

"Tereshkova, Valentina (1937- )." World of Earth Science. . Retrieved August 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/tereshkova-valentina-1937

Tereshkova, Valentina

Tereshkova, Valentina

Russian Cosmonaut and Politician 1937-

The Soviet Union not only launched the first human into space (Yuri Gagarin in 1961) but in June 1963 it also sent the first woman, Valentina Tereshkova. It would be another twenty years before Sally Ride became the first American woman in space. Tereshkova joined a club of amateur parachutists in 1961, shortly before interviewing with the Soviet space program. Prime Minister Nikita Khrushchev had suggested sending a woman into space before the United States. A lack of female airplane pilots made parachutists attractive candidates for the Soviet space program, and Tereshkova and three other women parachutists and a female pilot were selected to train as cosmonauts in 1962. Tereshkova was the only woman in the group who made it into space.

On June 16, 1963, Tereshkova launched aboard Vostok 6. She orbited forty-eight times over 70 hours and 50 minutes before returning to Earth. Tereshkova ejected from the capsule about 610 meters (20,000 feet) above the ground and descended in a parachute. She married fellow cosmonaut Andrian Nikolayev in 1963, and the next year their daughter Yelena became the first child of parents who had both been in space. Tereshkova later became a member of the Supreme Soviet, the former Soviet Union's national parliament.

see also Cosmonauts (volume 3); History of Humans in Space (volume 3); Ride, Sally (volume 3); Vostok (volume 3); Women in Space (volume 3).

Nadine Barlow

Bibliography

Briggs, Carole S. Women in Space: Reaching the Last Frontier. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications, 1988.

Buchanan, Douglas. Air and Space (Female Firsts in Their Fields). Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 1999.

Hooper, Gordon R. The Soviet Cosmonaut Team: A Comprehensive Guide to the Men and Women of the Soviet Manned Space Programme. San Diego: Univelt, 1986.

Thrusters See External Tank (Volume 3); Solid Rocket Boosters (Volume 3).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Tereshkova, Valentina." Space Sciences. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Tereshkova, Valentina." Space Sciences. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 19, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/tereshkova-valentina

"Tereshkova, Valentina." Space Sciences. . Retrieved August 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/tereshkova-valentina

Tereshkova, Valentina Vladimirovna

Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova, 1937–, Soviet cosmonaut. She was the first woman to orbit the earth, in Vostok 6 on June 16–19, 1963. She left the Soviet space program soon after and married cosmonaut Andriyan Nikolayev. She was president of the Committee of Soviet Women (1968–86) and a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (1971).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Tereshkova, Valentina Vladimirovna." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Tereshkova, Valentina Vladimirovna." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 19, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/tereshkova-valentina-vladimirovna

"Tereshkova, Valentina Vladimirovna." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved August 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/tereshkova-valentina-vladimirovna