[Ed. – Nice to see the New York Times remains more committed to tokenism and satisfying quotas than it does to human achievement.]
On June 16, 1963, Valentina Tereshkova, a 26-year-old factory worker-turned-cosmonaut, became the first woman in space. She flew a solo mission that orbited Earth 48 times. In three days, she traveled farther than all previous American astronauts combined. Ardent female fans in the U.S.S.R. saw her triumph as a welcome reaffirmation of the Soviet commitment to gender equality, while women outside the Soviet Union took it as proof that there was no limit to what women could achieve. … The first American woman in space, Sally Ride, didn’t go up until 1983.
Beginning in 1967, the Soviet Union and its socialist allies collaborated on space missions through the Interkosmos program. In July 1980, Vietnamese pilotPhạm Tuân became the first Asian and the first person from a developing country to travel to space.
Just two months after Phạm’s voyage, the Cuban Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez became the first person of African descent to go to space, while it would take the U.S. three more years to send an African-American.