The first woman in space was Soviet Cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, who flew on Vostok 6 on June 16, 1963. The launch site was the Baikonur Cosmodrome, which is located near the city of Tyuratam in Kazakhstan, close to the Aral Sea.
Tereshkova was 26 years old at the time. She was a textile worker and an amateur parachutist.
Her flight lasted three days. She orbited the earth 48 times.
Cosmonaut Valeri Bykovsky was launched on Vostok 5 two days before Tereshkova's launch. The two spacecraft came within three miles of each other.
Valentia Tereshkova later married fellow cosmonaut Andrian Nikolayev.


Sally Ride was the first American woman in space.
Sally Ride flew on the Space Shuttle Challenger STS-7 mission in June 1983. She used the shuttle's robot arm to deploy two communication satellites. She had helped developed this robot arm prior to its use in space. The Challenger landed at Edwards Air Force Base, California.
She also flew on the Space Shuttle Challenger 41-G mission, which lasted from October 5 to October 13, 1984. Dr. Kathryn D. Sullivan also flew on this mission, which was the first mission with two female astronauts. For this mission, the Challenger landed at Kennedy Space Center, Florida.
Sally Ride prepared for a third shuttle mission. The Challenger disaster in January 1986, however, delayed the shuttle program.
Books about Sally Ride:
Sally Ride and Susan Okie, To Space and Back
Lorraine Hopping, Sally Ride: Space Pioneer


The first woman to perform a space walk was Soviet cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya in July 1984.


Dr. Kathyrn Sullivan became the first American woman to perform a space walk. She did this on the STS-41G Space Shuttle Challenger mission in October 1984.


Christa McAuliffe was a high school social studies teacher from Concord, New Hampshire. She was selected as the first teacher-in-space from a list of over 11,000 applicants. She was selected by a NASA committee on July 18, 1985. George Bush, who was Vice President at the time, announced that Christa McAuliffe was NASA's unanimous choice for the position.
The Challenger launch time was January 28, 1986 at 11:38:00 AM Eastern Standard Time. The launch site was Cape Canaveral, Florida. The Challenger exploded 73 seconds after launch, at an altitude of about 46,000 feet. All of the astronauts were killed.


Roberta Bondar was a payload specialist on the Space Shuttle Discovery in January 1992. She was Canada's first woman astronaut.
The following book discusses Dr. Roberta Bondar's shuttle mission:
B. Bondar and R. Bondar, On the Shuttle Eight Days in Space, Greey de Pencier Books, Toronto, 1993.
Dr. Bondar's sister, Barbara, was the co-author of this book.


Dr. Mae C. Jemison was the first African-America woman in space. She flew on the Space Shuttle Endeavour, on the STS-47 mission. This mission was launched on September 12, 1992.
Dr. Jemison was born October 17, 1956, in Decatur, Alabama. She earned a a doctorate in medicine degree from Cornell University in 1981. She served as the Area Peace Corps Medical Officer for Sierra Leone and Liberia in West Africa.

Mae Jemison's autobiography:
Find Where the Wind Goes : Moments from My Life
Ellen Ochoa was the first Hispanic-American woman astronaut. She flew on the space shuttle Discovery (STS-56) mission, launched on April 8, 1993. She used the shuttle robot arm to deploy and capture the Spartan satellite, which was used to study the solar corona.
Books about Ellen Ochoa:
Maritza Romero, Ellen Ochoa : The First Hispanic Woman Astronaut (Great Hispanics of Our Time)
American astronaut Shannon Lucid spent 188 days in space, returning to Earth on September 26, 1996. She lived and worked aboard the Russian Mir space station. She set two records in the process:
1. The longest duration for a woman in space.
2. The longest duration for an American in space.
Lucid's total time in space is 223 days. This total includes her Mir mission as well as several space shuttle missions.
Books about Shannon Lucid:
Shannon Lucid : Space Ambassador (Gateway Biographies)

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Please send comments and questions to Tom Irvine at: tomirvine@aol.com
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