Tereshkova holds many honours including the Hero of the Soviet Union (1963) and Order of Honour (2003).
Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova was born in the village of Maslennikovo in the Tutayevsky District of the Soviet Union on 6 March 1937. From an early age she was interested in parachuting, but her upbringing was far from the military beginnings of other cosmonauts. At the age of 22 she was still working as a textile worker and was active in the Young Communist League and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
In 1961, after Yuri Gagarin had beaten the Americans to become the first man in space, the Soviets decided to also go for the accolade of first woman in space. Tereshkova was selected, largely due to her parachuting experience, along with four other candidates out of hundreds of applicants to train for a mission into space. Her involvement in the Communist Party combined with her working class background made her the stand-out candidate.
After rigorous training including weightless flights and spacecraft engineering, Tereshkova was chosen along with two others as the leading candidates in Novemeber 1962. Finally, at the age of just 26, 10 years younger than any of the American ...