10. Replicating the success of her male counterparts, more than twenty years before the United States would send a female cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman to enter space on June 16, 1963
Improving upon the hamstrung launch of Vostok 5, the final launch of the Vostok-series spacecraft – Vostok 6 – departed Earth without complications on June 16, 1963. Hoping to better understand the effects of space travel on the female body, on board, for the first time, was a female cosmonaut: Valentina Tereshkova, a civilian inducted into the Soviet Air Force as an honorary member for the mission. Keeping a detailed flight log, taking photographs, and broadcasting live from her capsule, Tereshkova’s mission lasted for almost three days and encompassed a total of 48 completed orbits.
Landing safely in Russia, Tereshkova suffered in the aftermath of her return to Earth from a variety of bodily pains likely associated with the shift in gravity. In a rather patronizing summary of her mission, Soviet officials recorded her exemplary performance as good for her gender and leaving room for improvement by men. The female Soviet cosmonaut program was dissolved in 1969, with Tereshkova, remaining still the only woman to embark on a solo space mission, entering politics. The United States would not reproduce this landmark effort of equality until the flight of Sally Ride in 1983.