For day 16 of our Women’s History Month celebration, we recognize: Sally Ride!
Sally Ride (May 26, 1951 – July 23, 2012) was the first American woman in space. Born in Encino, California on May 26, 1951, Ride was a passionate tennis player with hopes of becoming a professional. After leaving Swarthmore College during her sophomore year to pursue a tennis career, Ride then realized that school was a better option, and enrolled at Stanford University, where she received her bachelor’s in physics and in English. She continued on to her earn her master’s and doctorate degrees in physics. In 1977, Ride responded to NASA’s newspaper ad asking for young scientists to serve as “mission specialists” for future flights. Ride was selected for NASA’s class of 1978, being one of only 5 women chosen. The space shuttle Challenger STS-7 was Ride’s first space shuttle flight. She was one of five crew members chosen for the one week mission. On June 18, 1983, Ride not only became the first American woman in space, but the youngest American as well. During her mission, Ride served as the flight engineer, launching two communication satellites and operating the Challenger’s mechanical arm. A year later on October 5, 1984, Ride boarded another shuttle mission, STS-41G, where she conducted scientific observations of earth for a total of eight days. Following her second mission, Ride investigated the 1986 Challenger accident, and later, assumed the role of special assistant to NASA’s administrator. In conjunction with her work at NASA, Ride also served as the Director of the California Space Science Institute, on the Advisory Board of the National Women’s History Museum, and a member of the President’s advisory committee on Science and Technology.