March 6, 1937. The first woman in space, Valentina Tereshkova, was born on this date in a small village in central Russia. Tereskhova’s interest in skydiving, which she began as a teenager, brought her to the attention of the Soviet space program.
Tereshkova, under the call name “Chaika” (Seagull), launched solo aboard Vostok 6 on June 16, 1963. Part of her mission was to compare how the female body reacted in space to data collected in two years of male-only missions. She spent nearly 71 hours in space, orbiting the Earth 48 times.
Her flight was heralded as a leap forward for women, but the next female cosmonaut did not fly for another 19 years. The United States’ first female astronaut, Sally Ride, rocketed into space on June 18, 1983.