Yesterday, 16 June, marked the 52nd anniversary of the day Russian astronaut Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space. At the time, many wondered how the Russians were able to beat the US when NASA already had an impressive roster of highly qualified female astronauts. In a Life Magazine issue headlined “She Orbits Over the Sex Barrier,” writer Clare Booth Luce offers a simple answer: communism. Because of the USSR’s communist ideals, men and women were treated more equally while the US struggled to imagine putting a woman in space.
How Valentina Tereshkova Became the First Woman in Space