A Moment in Air Force History

Who was the first woman in space?

A. Dr. Sally Ride
B. Jr. Lt. Valentina Tereshkova
C. Dr. Judith Resnick
D. Dr. Svetlana Savitskaya

Answer: B. On June 16, 1963, Jr. Lt. Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space when she flew aboard the Vostok 6. The flight lasted three days. Flight objectives included comparative analysis of the effect of various space-flight factors on the male and female organisms; medico-biological research; further elaboration and improvement of spaceship systems under conditions of joint flight. It was chief engineer of the Russia’s space program, Sergei Korolev’s idea just after Gagarin’s flight to put a woman into space. Soviet Premiere Nikita Khrushchev made the final crew selection. Korolev was unhappy with Tereshkova’s performance in orbit, and she was not permitted to take manual control of the spacecraft as had been planned. Tereshkova did not reply during several communications sessions. To this day it is not known if she was paralysed with fear, or their was an equipment failure. Vostok 6 was recovered on June 19, 1963.

Did You Know? Dr. Sally Ride became the first American woman in space on June 18, 1983 as a member of the Challenger during the seventh space shuttle mission. On Aug. 30, 1984, Dr. Judith Resnick became the second American woman in space. She would be killed in the Challenger disaster two years later. Dr. Svetlana Savitskaya was the second woman in space; Aug. 19, 1982. She was also the first woman to walk in space on July 25, 1984.

(Courtesy of 435th Air Base Wing and 86th Airlift Wing History offices)