Lieutenant Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova was born to a peasant family in Russia and worked in a textile mill. When she became 18, she joined a parachuting club which drew the attention of the Russia Space Agency. They were looking for a female to be launched into space. As they were no suitable females who were pilots, their attention turned to parachutists which were classed as the next best thing. She went through a series of selection processes which whittled down the number of applicants to just her.
She had been treated no differently to a man which made her achievement all that much special. Her flight into space lasted nearly three days which was greater than all the American Mercury pilots spent in space put together. After returning to Earth, she married a fellow Cosmonaut and she gave birth to a daughter Elena. Scientists wondered whether space flight would cause any problems to a womans childbearing capability after space flight. Such was the importance that her pregnancy was monitored carefully. Any fears of the babys health were dispelled when the baby was born. Yelena went on to become a doctor.
Valentina`s marriage didn`t last, she divorced about ten years later. She moved onward and upwards as they say. She gained influence in the Communist Party. The American`s reluctance to send a woman into space upset many feminists, it was not until 1983 that America sent their first woman into space as part of a space shuttle mission. Valentina only went up into space once but that event was enough to secure her place in history.