Sally Ride (1951 – 2012)
It’s hard to believe that over thirty years ago, Sally Ride was in space. It was a big deal, and everyone knew her name, because on June 18, 1983, she became the first American female crew member of a NASA space shuttle. Has it really been over three decades? Time flies. (Above Image: In space, on the flight deck of Challenger, courtesy NASA)
It was in the company of four male astronauts that the physicist rocketed into space on a mission lasting seven days, during which the crew deployed two communications satellites.
The mission that carried America’s first woman into space was STS-7, and it was on the space shuttle named for HMB Challenger, a famous exploration ship of the 1800’s.
Ride returned to space the following year, also aboard Challenger. She was scheduled for a third mission in 1986. However, that mission was cancelled when Challenger was lost. Instead, she was appointed to the special commission that was tasked with investigating the disaster.
Though she no longer worked for NASA at the time of the Columbia disaster in February of 2003, she also served on the board that investigated that disaster, making her the only person to lend her expertise to both committees.
Ride also co-authored seven children’s books about space, including To Space and Back. Through her books, she wanted to provide incentive and encouragement for children – especially girls – to study science. There was a need when she wrote those books, and that need still exists.
It must have worked. Something did, as evidenced when NASA announced the ‘Class of 2013,’ that year’s crop of brand new astronauts. Eight people were chosen from a field of 6,000 who applied.
Four of the lucky eight are women!
Yes, HALF of those new astronauts weare ladies – two pilots and two scientists. So, you see, it’s true that Sally Ride’s legacy lives on. It’s a legacy of which I’m sure she would be proud.
Rest in Peace, Sally Ride, knowing that the trail you blazed is being followed, and will continue to be followed for generations.
Do you know how NASA chose the names for each of the shuttles in their fleet? Do you know a child who is interested in rocket ships and space travel? If so, you might be interested in these other space related articles by CruiseReady: