On this day in 1963 Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman to fly in space. Out of more than four hundred applicants, Tereshkova was one of five women selected to join the female cosmonaut corp in February, 1962. Tereshkova was seen as a particularly worthy candidate because of her meager upbringing in a small village outside of Moscow and also because her father had died as a war hero during World War II.
The female cosmonaut corp went through rigorous training, including weightless flights, isolation tests, centrifuge training, spacecraft engineering and parachuting. However, despite extensive training the female cosmonaut corp was never fully integrated into the cosmonaut corp. The creation of the corp and the flights of women in space were primarily used for propaganda purposes by the Soviet leadership.
Khrushchev hand selected Tereshkova to be the first of the five women of the female cosmonaut corp to fly in space. On June 16, 1963 she flew on Vostok 6 under the call sign Chayka as the first female and the first civilian to fly in space. She orbited the earth 48 times and spent almost three days in space. That was more flying time than all American astronauts combined at that time. None of the other four members of the female cosmonaut corp ever flew and the next Russian woman to travel in space was Svetlana Savitskaya 19 years later.
And now a toast to Valentina!
Russian Cocktail (verbatim from The Savoy Cocktail Book)
1/3 Creme de Cacao
Shake well, strain into cocktail glass, and tossitoff quickski.