the Soviet 26-year-old Valentina Tereshkova was the first woman to be
launched into space in the Vostok 6 vehicle.
The mission was scheduled to stay in orbit for three days; Tereshkova left from Bajikonur and landed, as planned, on June 19th.
Obviously, the launch of a woman into orbit, as part of the "space race", could not fail to fit into the ideological battle between the USSR and the USA. The American President John Kennedy wrote to Khrushchev, after the return of the Tereshkova, to congratulate him on the success of the mission and the latter replied several weeks later, pointing out that that flight was the first of its kind for a woman; in the following years. Valentina was celebrated at home as a national heroine.
Her life was particularly intense, with her past as a worker and, after the experience as a cosmonaut, her political career at first in the Soviet Union and, after the collapse of communism, in the Russian Federation - where she still supports Vladimir Putin's Party today.
Although the Soviet Union and the United States, in the following years, continued to "chase" each other in space, spending a lot of money, making enormous technological advances and reaching goals that were unthinkable until a short time before - with the moon landing in 1969 - it the world had to wait 19 years before seeing another woman in orbit: Svetlana Savitskaya - another Soviet cosmonaut - left on August 19, 1982 followed, a year later, by the first American woman, Sally Ride.
Britannica, Valentina Tereshkova,
From Chairman Khrushchev to President Kennedy, 8
luglio 1963, Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS),
1961-1963, Volume VI, Kennedy Kruschev Exchanges, document 110,
P. Sol, “Dalla
sovietica Tereshkova alla prima astronauta cinese, la storia delle
donne nello spazio" Il Sole 24
From the Department of State to the Embassy in the Soviet Union, 19
giugno 1963, Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS),
1961-1963, Volume VI, Kennedy Kruschev Exchanges, document 107,
Valentino, P., “Chi è Valentina Tereshkova, la cosmonauta che ha reso eterno Putin" Corriere della Sera, 13 marzo 2020, https://www.corriere.it/esteri/20_marzo_13/addio-valentina-tereshkova-cosmonauta-che-ha-reso-eterno-putin-5e6db7e6-653a-11ea-86da-7c7313c791fe.shtml?refresh_ce-cp