In 1963 Valentina Tereshkova was the first woman to go into space, she spent around three days in space and orbited the world 48 times. She did this in her space capsule, Vostok 6. This was her only mission into space and she remains today the only woman to have ever done a solo space mission.
Tereshkova was born in 1937 and 170 miles away from Moscow, during her early life, she was very interested in parachuting. Doing night and day jumps into the Volga river, training with a parachuting squad every weekend without telling her mother. This was called the Yaroslavl Air Sports Club. She left school though at the age of 16 and worked in a textile factory, though she was still able to continue lessons by correspondence.
Gagarin was the first man in space in 1961 and this inspired Tereshkova, she volunteered for a Soviet Space Program without any pilot experience. However, she had over 126 parachute jumps on record and at the time astronauts had to jump from their capsules to parachute to safety when returning to Earth.
In an intense training program with four other women for 18 months, Tereshkova was the only one who passed the grueling tests to check how she would react to long periods of time being alone and zero gravity conditions. Only Tereshkova went to space.
In fact, her mission was nearly a complete tragedy, something which remained classified for almost 40 years. The spacecraft she was traveling in had an error with its automatic navigation software, causing her to move away from earth. Luckily Tereshkova noticed this error and alerted her ground control. Soviet scientists quickly put together a new algorithm which allowed her to land safely.
Her landing was in a secluded area of the Altay region, near the Kazakhstan-Mongolia border and she was helped out of her spacesuit by villagers. She even had dinner with them, something she was later reprimanded for!