London. Dr Valentina Tereshkova (78), with Mobilium Global CEO, Ralph Simon – an amazing, fearless woman !

Dr Tereshkova was selected from more than 400 applicants and 5 finalists to pilot Vostok 6 in June 1963 & spent almost 3 days in space, orbiting Earth 48 times – her only trip into space. Before her recruitment as a cosmonaut, Tereshkova was a textile-factory assembly worker and an amateur skydiver, & although she did not have any experience as a pilot, she was accepted into the program because of her 126 parachute jumps. At the time, cosmonauts had to parachute from their capsules seconds before they hit the ground on returning to Earth.

Along with four other women, Tereshkova received 18 months of training, which included tests to determine how she would react to long periods of time being alone, to extreme gravity conditions and to zero-gravity conditions. Of the five women, only Tereshkova went into space.On her historic space flight, she spent nearly three days in orbit, photographing layers in the Earth’s atmosphere, the Moon, and monitoring the effects of spaceflight on the human body.

* Secret unveiled this week: The Soviet Space Agency had thought of most things, but had not remembered to pack her a toothbrush.

“Unfortunately it is a fact,” said Tereshkova, 78. “But I’m very resourceful as any woman would be. I had my toothpaste, and I had my hand, and I had water.”

She also revealed how after entering orbit she quickly realised that her spacecraft – the Vostok 6 – had an error in the control programme which would have seen it travelling further away from Earth on the journey home rather than descending. She sorted this out with Mission Control and came back safe and alive. In 2013 at age 76, she offered to go on a one-way trip to Mars if the opportunity arose. She is in London to launch a new exhibition ‘Cosmonauts – Birth of the Space Age’ at London’s Science Museum.