Women in space? You must be joking! At the beginning of space exploration, in the 1960s, only men went into space. Yet, things started out so well. On 16 June 1963, the first woman went into space, only 2 years after the first man, Yuri Gagarin. Her name, Valentina Terechkova, a 26-year-old Russian. After her? Nothing for almost 20 years! The Russians just wanted to be the first to send a woman into space! Today, out of 545 astronauts, only 60 have been women. Most of them American. However, Claudie Haigneré from France went on two missions, in 1996 and 2001!
But why are there so few women in space?
Because not many women want to be astronauts! Yet, they are just as capable of carrying out the same missions as men. Some have been pilots, mission commanders, and did spacewalks. You don’t need to be a pilot to be a candidate any more. Today, astronauts come from lots of different jobs: researchers, astrophysicists, engineers or… divers! Space missions require lots of different skills, whether you’re a girl… or a boy!