Stamp Sheet Commemorates the First Woman in Space
This mint sheet pictures Russian cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova. The stamp images include Tereshkova in her space suit at the time of her flight, the Vostok 6 spacecraft, and a more recent picture.
Following Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s successful first human spaceflight and orbit of Earth in 1961, discussions began about sending a woman into space. That first female was Valentina Tereshkova.
Valentina showed an early interest in parachuting and trained at the local Aeroclub. She made her first jump in 1959. It was her parachuting experience in particular that led to her recruitment in the cosmonaut program in 1962.
Out of 400 total applicants, five were selected for the female cosmonaut corps. Their training, which lasted several months, included weightless flights, isolation tests, centrifuge tests, rocket theory, spacecraft engineering, 120 parachute jumps, and pilot training in jet fighters. After completing her final examinations, Valentina and three others were commissioned junior lieutenants in the Soviet Air Force. The State Space Commission then nominated Valentina to pilot Vostok 6, and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev confirmed her selection.
On June 16, 1963, Vostok 6 launched flawlessly and Valentina became the first woman in space. Despite experiencing some nausea and physical discomfort for most of the flight, Valentina orbited the earth 48 times, spending almost three days in space. With this single flight, she logged more flight time than all American astronauts combined up to that time. Valentina kept a detailed flight log and took photographs of the horizon.