The first spacecraft piloted by a woman, “Vostok-6″ was launched in July 16th, 1963. That woman was a citizen of the Soviet Union – valentina Tereshkova. She flew into space alone. The call sign of Valentina for that flight was “Chaika” (“Gull”), the phrase she pronounced before the launch was “Hey! Sky, take your hat off!”.
The world first female cosmonaut was chosen from the number of parachutists. After the first successful flights of Yuri Gagarin and German Titov it was decided to send a woman into space. It was a political decision. The country had to first in this, too.
They started to search for candidates in the very end of 1961. they were required to be parachutists, under 30 years old, not taller than 170 cm, not heavier than 70 kg. Why parachutists? Because the cosmonaut of the “Vostok” had to catapult after breaking of the lander in the atmosphere and land with a parachute while the preparation time was rather short – half a year only.
Intially five women were selected from fifty candidates. Valentina Tereshkova was one of them. All of them except Valentina Ponomareva who was a pilot, were parachutists. Tereshkova had been parachuting since 1959, performed about 90 jumps.
The selected women all together hoped they would fly into space sooner or later anyway. In fact they were all promised that to keep the friendly atmosphere in the team.
But it didn’t happen. They were really planned to be sent into space and were preparing for that for some years more after the flight of Tereshkova but in October 1969 their female team was disbanded. So only Valetina Tereshkova got a chance to become a cosmonaut.
Valentina had two backup pilots: Irina Solovyova and Valentina Ponomareva.