June 16, 1963. Just over two years after Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space, Valentina Tereshkova becomes the first woman in orbit. The textile factory worker and keen skydiving enthusiast piloted Vostok 6 at the age of 26. Over a period of three days Tereshkova orbited Earth 48 times, keeping a log and performing tests to record the effects of space flight on a woman’s body. She later went on to become a prominent member of the USSR’s Communist Party and a national hero; then-president Vladimir Putin invited her to his residence on her 70th birthday in 2007. After her flight it would be another 19 years before a woman was to be launched into space (Svetlana Savitskaya in 1982). The first American woman into space was Sally Ride in 1983. In 1999, a space shuttle was commanded for the first time by a woman, Eileen Collins.
Also on June 16: James Joyce’s first date with wife-to-be Nora Barnacle inspires annual ‘Bloomsday’ in Dublin (1904); founding of the Ford Motor Company (1903) and IBM (1911); ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev defects from the Soviet Union (1961).
Born on June 16: Adam Smith (1723), Stan Laurel (1890), Giacomo Agostini (1942), Tupak Shakur (1971)