[Tereshkova in 1963]
In 1963, as a 26-year-old Soviet cosmonaut, she was the sole occupant and pilot of Vostok 6, spending 3 days in space and orbiting the earth 48 times.
After her space career, Valentina attended the Air Force academy and became an engineer, ultimately earning a doctorate. She also became prominent in the Communist Party and held many high political posts. She is much decorated and honoured.
[Tereshkova in 1969]
According to Wikipedia:
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Tereshkova lost her political office but none of her prestige. To this day, she is revered as a hero, and to some her importance in Russian space history is only surpassed by Yuri Gagarin and Alexey Leonov. In 2011, she was elected to the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian legislature, where she continues to serve.
[Tereshkova in 2014]
Now 78, she appears to be as feisty as ever, with an ongoing sense of adventure. She has offered to resume her cosmonaut career in order to participate in the first one-way space flight to Mars. And wouldn't that be a fitting way for Valentina Tereshkova to cap her lifetime of achievement?
[I owe a big shout-out to Cal at Cal's Canadian Cave of Cool for teaching me about Valentina Tereshkova via his regular posts about her. Many of these photos and much of this info come from his blog.]