July 25, 1984: Savitskaya is first woman to walk in space

Teresa Mathew

On this date—July 25, 1984—Svetlana Savitskaya became the first woman and the 53rd cosmonaut to perform a spacewalk. Savitskaya was the second woman to enter space, the first being Valentina Tereshkova 19 years before her. Savitskaya and Tereshkova were both Russian cosmonauts, a term used to refer to an astronaut trained to command, pilot, or serve as a crew member of a spacecraft.

While there were 57 Russian and Soviet spacewalkers through 2010, Savistkaya was the only female. During her spacewalk, Savistkaya was outside the space station for over three hours. In 1993, when she retired from working as a cosmonaut, she had spent a total of 19.71 days in space. The first woman to enter space twice, Savistkaya had this to say about how space travel made her regard Earth:

“One has a natural psychological wish to return to Earth, to their home. When in orbit, one thinks of the whole of the Earth, rather than of one's country, as one's home."