Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova (Russian: Валенти́на Влади́мировна Терешко́ва; born 6 March 1937) is a retired Soviet cosmonaut and the first woman to have flown in space, having been selected from more than four hundred applicants and five finalists to pilot Vostok 6 on 16 June 1963.
Before being recruited as a cosmonaut, Tereshkova was a textile factory assembly worker and an amateur parachutist. After the dissolution of the first group of female cosmonauts in 1969, she became a prominent member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, holding various political offices. She remained politically active following the collapse of the Soviet Union and is still revered as a heroine in post-Soviet Russia.
Valentina Tereshkova later became a prominent member of the Soviet government and a well known representative abroad. She was made a member of the World Peace Council in 1966, a member of the Yaroslavl Soviet in 1967, a member of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union in 1966–1970 and 1970–1974, and was elected to the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet in 1974. She was also the Soviet representative to the UN Conference for the International Women’s Year in Mexico City in 1975. She also led the Soviet delegation to the World Conference on Women in Copenhagen and played a critical role in shaping the socialist women’s global agenda for peace. She attained the rank of deputy to the Supreme Soviet, membership of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Central Committee, Vice President of the International Woman’s Democratic Federation and President of the Soviet-Algerian Friendship Society. She was decorated with the Hero of the Soviet Union medal, the USSR’s highest award. She was also awarded the Order of Lenin, Order of the October Revolution, numerous other medals, and foreign orders including the Karl Marx Order, United Nations Gold Medal of Peace and the Simba International Women’s Movement Award. She was also bestowed a title of the Hero of Socialist Labor of Czechoslovakia, Hero of Labor of Vietnam, and Hero of Mongolia. In 1990 she received an honorary doctorate from the University of Edinburgh. Tereshkova crater on the far side of the Moon was named after her.
Valentina Tereshkova became the first and still remains to be the only female general officer in both Soviet and Russian armed forces.
A full list of Tereshkova’s insane number of awards and medals can be found here.