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The first woman in space forgot her toothbrush

We’ve all had that moment of panic upon realizing we left something important at home, but most of us have at least been on planet Earth when it happened. The first woman in space wasn’t so lucky: Valentina Tereshkova went without a toothbrush during her three days aboard the Vostok-6 spacecraft in 1963. To be fair, it wasn’t her fault. Mission control was actually in charge of packing the essentials, as the pioneering cosmonaut had other, presumably more scientific, things to focus on. In any case, she didn’t seem too bothered by the oversight: “I was resourceful, as any woman would be,” she said in 2015. “I had my hands and water.” Any kid who’s slept over at a friend’s house without planning for it in advance can relate.

More than six decades later, Tereshkova remains the only woman to have piloted a solo mission to space; five other women were trained for the mission, but the then-26-year-old was ultimately chosen. “A bird cannot fly with one wing only,” she has said of her historic role. “Human spaceflight cannot develop any further without the active participation of women.” Sally Ride became the first American woman in space (and the third overall after Svetlana Savitskaya) 20 years later in 1983; not having heard anything to the contrary in the decades since, we can safely presume that she had her toothbrush with her.

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