Valentina Tereshkova was introduced to the Aero Club by a friend. She agreed to observe out of curiosity but felt parachute jumping wasn't for her. Though after seeing an ad posted in the textile factory where she worked, she found herself back at the airport where the club met.
She took her first jump in 1959 - so full of adrenaline that she leapt from the plane before she was instructed.
In 1961, the USSR celebrated a Space Race victory. They successfully sent the first man, Yuri Gagarin, into outer space, and plans to send the first woman into space soon followed. Valentina read that Gagarin had also been a student of the aerospace club, and although skydiving was her only qualification, she instantly resolved to become a cosmonaut. Less than a year later, Valentina and four other women were selected to begin intensive training to compete for a seat aboard the Vostok 6.
Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman to fly in space in 1963, completing 48 orbits around the earth. After her flight, she earned a doctorate in engineering and became a prominent political figure. She served as a member of the World Peace Council and as a representative for the UN Conference for the International Women's Year. She has received countless accolades for her contributions to equality and peace. Valentina remains the only woman to have been on a solo space mission and continues to encourage women everywhere to shoot for the stars. - Kelly Longhurst
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