Valentina Tereshkova (1937)
A factory worker and a sky-diving enthusiast, she was selected from among hundreds of applicants to train to become the first woman to fly in space. Selected in part for her PR-perfect humble background, which fit well into the Soviet propaganda machine, she achieved something incredible at a time when women were fighting for equal rights.
Her greatest achievement:
Valentina Tereshkova was the first woman in space. In 1963, she completed a historic flight. Just as historic as Yuri Gagarin, if not more so, if the rights of women in 1963 are taken into account. (In 1963, women in the USA, for example, couldn’t get a credit card, serve on a jury, or get an Ivy League education, among other things). It would be 19 years before another woman would go to space again (also from the USSR), and 20 years before the first US woman went into space in 1983. She remains a symbol of a daring trail-blazer . So many firsts – first woman, only woman to fly solo, youngest woman to fly.