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Leaders Among Women in Space
USSR cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova
Valentina Tereshkova
1963: First woman in space, first woman in orbit - USSR cosmonaut Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova [also Valentina Tereshkova] was not only the first woman in orbit, 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. Following Yuri Gagarin as the first man in space in 1961, Tereshkova's 1963 flight brought additional prestige to the Soviet Union and what then appeared to be the dominant space program. [more...]

1960s: First American female astronauts - The Mercury 13 [also Mercury 13 and Mercury 13 and Mercury 13] were NASA female astronauts tested for the same physical and psychological conditions that America's original Mercury 7 male astronauts endured. However, the Mercury 13 were not assigned to space duty. [more...]

1982: Second woman in space, second woman in orbit - USSR cosmonaut Svetlana Yevgenyevna Savitskaya [also Svetlana Savitskaya and Svetlana Savitskaya] flew to the USSR's Salyut 7 space station August 19, 1982.

1983: First American woman in space, first American woman in orbit - Dr. Sally Kristen Ride rode in shuttle Challenger June 18, 1983. She rode Challenger to space again, a year later, and was training for a third flight when Challenger exploed during liftoff on January 28, 1986. More than three dozen women have flown on U.S. space shuttles since Sally Ride's first trip.

1984: First woman to take a spacewalk - USSR cosmonaut Svetlana Yevgenyevna Savitskaya

U.S. astronaut Judith Resnik
Judith Resnik
1984: Second American woman in space, second American woman in orbit - Dr. Judith A. Resnik flew in shuttle Discovery August 30, 1984. Two years later, Dr. Resnik died when the shuttle Challenger exploded during lift-off in 1986.

1984: First woman to go to space twice - Svetlana Savitskaya flew to the Salyut 7 space station in August 1982 and again in July 1984.

1984: First American woman to go to space twice - Sally Ride rode twice in Challenger, in June 1983 and October 1984.

1984: First American woman to take a spacewalk - Dr Kathryn Dwyer Sullivan

1984: First women together in space - Kathryn Sullivan and Sally Ride flew together in shuttle Challenger in October 1984.

1984: First mother in space - Dr. Anna Lee Tingle Fisher, M.D., flew in shuttle Discovery in November 1984.

1986: First women to die during spaceflight - Dr. Judith Arlene Resnik and Mrs. Sharon Christa McAuliffe [also Christa McAuliffe] were aboard shuttle Challenger when it was launched January 28, 1986. The entire crew of that flight died when the shuttle exploded during lift-off. Selected from 11,000 profesional educator applicants, Christa McAuliffe would have been the first teacher in space.

1989: First woman on a U.S. military flight - Dr. Kathryn Ryan Cordell Thornton flew aboard shuttle Discovery on a secret mission in November 1989. Later, in 1992, she flew on the maiden flight of the new shuttle Endeavour, which replaced Challenger.

British cosmonaut Helen Sharman
Helen Sharman
1990: First woman to fly in space as a result of a newspaper ad for " Astronaut wanted - no experience necessary" - British Chemist Helen Patricia Sharman stayed a week at Russia's space station Mir.   also Helen Sharman   also Helen Sharman

1992: First black woman in space - U.S. astronaut Dr Mae Carol Jemison.

1995: First woman to pilot a space shuttle - U.S. astronaut Eileen Marie Collins. Four years later, she would be the first woman space shuttle commander.

1996: Space endurance record for women and overall U.S. space endurance record - U.S. astronaut Dr Shannon Matilda Wells Lucid in six months aboard the Russian space station Mir. Altogether, Shannon Lucid spent 223 days in space during five space flights, including 188 days aboard Mir space station in 1996. She was the first American to take a spacewalk at Mir. (By comparison, even though the stay in space in 2001 for U.S. astronaut Susan Helms and her two fellow International Space Station Expedition 2 crew members was extended by almost a month because of problems with the robot arm, it still was three weeks shy of NASA's space endurance record.)

1997: Russian woman with most time in space - cosmonaut Yelena Vladimirovna Kondakova flew a total of 178 days, including 169 days aboard space station Mir in 1994 and nine days in a U.S. shuttle flight to Mir in 1997.

U.S. astronaut Susan Helms
Susan Helms
1999: First woman space shuttle commander - U.S. astronaut Eileen Marie Collins. During her astronaut career, she flew to space aboard shuttles in 1995, 1997, 1999 and 2005 when she was at the International Space Station.

2001: First woman crew member of the International Space Station and First U.S. military woman in space - U.S. astronaut Susan Jane Helms. She 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). A veteran of five space flights, she was on shuttle flights in 1993, 1994, 1996, 2000 and aboard the International Space Station as a member of the Expedition-2 crew in 2001. Altogether, Helms logged 5,064 hours in space, including a world record spacewalk of 8 hours and 56 minutes. 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.

2002: First ISS science officer, first woman to spacewalk at the space station - To highlight ISS research, Dr. Peggy A. Whitson, a biochemist, became the station's first resident scientist when she flew as part of the Expedition 5 crew. It was her first spaceflight and Dr. Whitson logged 184 days in space. Dr. Whitson ventured outside on August 16 for an EVA of 4 hours 25 minutes to install micrometeoroid shielding. As science officer, she conducted 21 investigations in human life sciences, microgravity sciences and commercial payloads.

2003: Second women to die during spaceflight - Dr. Kalpana Chawla and Dr. Laurel Clark were aboard shuttle Columbia when it disintegrated over Texas on February 1, 2003. The entire crew of seven died.

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