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The First Gals
TABLE OF CONTENTS
First woman in orbit: Valentina Tereshkova was not only the first woman, but also the first ordinary person in space. She was a textile mill worker who enjoyed the hobby of parachute jumping when she was picked for a class of women to train for spaceflight. USSR Premier Nikita Khrushchev wanted a spectacular, so, by age 25, Tereshkova was a cosmonaut. She spent 71 hours orbiting Earth 48 times in June 1963 in her capsule Sea Gull. She had made 126 parachute jumps, but her brief spaceflight training didn't prepare her for high-G re-entry. After landing, she was reported in "pitiful condition," but recovered quickly. Khrushchev boasted, "It is our girl who is first in space."
Second woman in orbit: Cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya flew to the Salyut 7 space station August 19, 1982.
First American female astronauts: The Mercury 13 were NASA female astronauts tested for the same physical and psychological conditions that the Mercury 7 male astronauts endured. However, the Mercury 13 were not assigned to space duty. One of the Mercury 13, Jerrie Cobb, told the U.S. Congress in the mid-1960s that NASA had failed to give women the same opportunity as men. Then-newly-decorated space hero John Glenn told Congress that the space agency was just following the nation's "social order" when it did not fly the female astronauts.
First American woman to fly in orbit: Astronaut Sally K. Ride rode in Challenger, blasting off June 18, 1983.
Second American woman in orbit: Astronaut Judith A. Resnick flew in shuttle Discovery August 30, 1984.
First Canadian woman in orbit: Roberta L. Bondar, M.D., flew in shuttle Atlantis in 1991.
First woman to go to space twice: Svetlana Savitskaya flew to the Salyut 7 space station in August 1982 and again in July 1984.
First U.S. woman in space twice: Sally Ride rode twice in Challenger, in June 1983 and October 1984.
First male-female spacewalk: Svetlana Savitskaya and Vladimir Dzhanibekov went outside the space station Salyut 7 for 3.5 hours in July 1984.
First women together in space: Sally Ride and Kathryn D. Sullivan flew together in Challenger in October 1984.
First mixed male/female crew: Svetlana Savitskaya, Leonid Popov and Alexander Serebrov flew in August 1982, spending eight days at the Salyut 7 space station.
First American mixed male/female crew: Sally Ride, Robert L. Crippen, Frederick H. "Rick" Hauck, John W. Fabian and Norman E. Thagard flew in shuttle Challenger in June 1983.
First couple married after spaceflight: Cosmonauts Valentina Tereshkova and Andrian Nikolayev were married in November 1963, five months after her June flight in Vostok 6. They had a romance before her flight. He had flown in Vostok 3 in August 1962 and later flew in Soyuz 9 in 1970. USSR Premier Nikita Khrushchev was toastmaster at the wedding.
First cosmonaut progeny: Yelena, daughter of USSR cosmonauts Valentina Tereshkova and Andrian Nikolayev, was born in June 1964.
First married couple in space: Astronauts Mark Lee and Jan Davis will become the first married couple to travel together in space on the maiden voyage of shuttle Endeavour in 1992. Will they get it on in space?
First mother in space: Anna Fisher, M.D., flew in Discovery in November 1984.
First woman on a U.S. military flight: Kathryn Thornton flew aboard shuttle Discovery on a secret mission in November 1989.
First U.S. military females in space: U.S. Army Capt. Nancy J. Sherlock and U.S. Air Force Capt. Susan J. Helms are to fly U.S. shuttles in 1992 or 1993.
U.S. space endurance record: U.S. astronaut Shannon Lucid in 1996 set the U.S. time-in-space endurance record while she was aboard the Russian Mir space station for 188 consecutive days in orbit.
First female payload commander: Kathryn Sullivan, aboard Atlantis in April 1992. She previously flew to space in Challenger in 1984 and Discovery in 1990.
First female shuttle pilot: Eileen Collins was the first female shuttle pilot in 1995. She also piloted a shuttle in 1997. The pilot is the shuttle cockpit second-in-command. Later, Susan Kilrain was pilot for two shuttle missions in 1997, and Pamela Melroy piloted a shuttle in 1998.
First female shuttle commander: Eileen Collins was commander of the shuttle Columbia mission in July 1999. Susan Kilrain and Pamela Melroy are on track to become the second and third female shuttle commanders.
First woman crew member of the International Space Station and First U.S. military woman in space: U.S. astronaut Susan Jane Helms in 2001 stayed at the space station 165 days bringing her total in space to 210 days during five flights. She also was the first female amateur radio operator to communicate directly with hams on the ground via amateur radio from the space station (ARISS). In 2010, now-Lt. General Susan Helms was appointed Commander, 14th Air Force (Air Forces Strategic-Space), Air Force Space Command; and Commander, Joint Functional Component Command for Space, U.S. Strategic Command, Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.
First International Space Station science officer and First woman to spacewalk at the space station: Dr. Peggy A. Whitson, a biochemist, in 2002 became the International Space Station's first resident scientist.
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