Bad Girls Throughout History: 100 Remarkable Women Who Changed the World - Ann Shen (2016)
Valentina Tereshkova (1937-) opened up the starry sky to girls in every corner of the world when she became the first woman in space on June 16, 1963. Her journey was an unconventional one, having helped her widowed mother in a textile factory and attended school for only about eight years before leaving at the age of sixteen to work full-time.
Tereshkova’s turning point came when she joined a local aviation club to pursue her passion for skydiving. She completed 126 parachute jumps, which made her the ideal candidate for the Soviet space program when they were trying to recruit a woman to join the crew. At the time, astronauts had to parachute out of the space capsule on its return to earth. After eighteen months of training, at twenty-six Tereshkova passed all the tests and was chosen to pilot Vostok 6. She orbited the earth forty-eight times, logging over seventy hours in space—more than all the Americans’ time in space combined up to that point. Upon her return, she became a national hero and a successful Soviet Union politician. She was given multiple awards, including the United Nations Gold Medal of Peace, and became the Soviet representative for international women’s organizations. She has yet to return to space, but remains an adventurer: in 2013, at the age of seventy-six, she volunteered to take a prospective one-way trip to Mars.