Female Frontiers QuestChat Archive
Date: March 23, 1999
Featuring: Sally Ride
University of California, San Diego
[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 2 - 09:23:41
Hello to our early arriving chat participants! Today's Female Frontiers
chat with Dr. Sally Ride will begin at 10:00 a.m., Pacific Standard Time.
Be sure you have read Sally's profile at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/space/frontiers/ride.html
before joining this chat.
[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 4 - 09:24:03
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do not appear on your screen immediately during moderation. They will
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[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 5 - 09:24:18
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[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 6 - 09:24:35
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[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 9 - 09:55:17
Hello and welcome to today's Female Frontiers chat with Sally Ride from
the University of California, San Diego. Sally Ride has flown in space
twice. Her first flight was on board the space shuttle Challenger in 1983,
during the STS-7 mission. She became the first American woman to venture
into space on that mission. Since then, Dr. Ride has written children's
books about her experiences in space, and is currently a physicist and
member of the faculty at the University of California, San Diego.
[ SallyRide/UCSD - 10 - 09:55:35 ]
Hello! I'm here to answer to your questions.
[ SallyRide/UCSD - 14 - 09:58:27 ]
RE: [Doug] Hi Sally, In your current
research, do you continue some of the projects that took you into Space?
What is your favorite topic of physics, and how has your participation
in the NASA Shuttle Program given you your opportunities in academics?
Hi Doug, My physics research is really very different from what I did
when I was preparing to go into and while I was in space. My current research
is related to the research that I did before I entered NASA, and I involved
the interaction of high energy electrons and intense beams of light.
[ SallyRide/UCSD - 15 - 10:00:39 ]
RE: [Lisa] After you made your famous
space flight, what made you decide to leave the astronaut corps?
Hi Lisa, I had planned to stay in the Astronaut corps about 7 years for
2 or 3 space flights, and then return to a university to perform physics
research and to teach. I made two flights into space and was assigned
to a third one which was interrupted by the Challenger accident. After
the accident, the space shuttle didn't fly for almost 3 years, and it
was during that time that I decided to go back to a university while I
could still get back into research.
[ SallyRide/UCSD - 19 - 10:01:55 ]
RE: [MaryHolman] Did you encounter any
problems with the male astronauts in your quest to become the first female
Hi Mary, No, I can honestly say that I did not. I came into the astronaut
corps with 34 other astronauts, 6 of us were women, and the men in that
group were very supportive and considered us equals.
[ SallyRide/UCSD - 21 - 10:03:31 ]
RE: [JohnMiller] What is the most difficult
thing about astronaut training? How many candidates were there when you
were trying to get accepted?
Hi John, The most difficult part of astronaut training is learning everything
that you need to learn so that you are an expert on every detail of the
space shuttle and the experiments. So it's a lot like being in school
in a very difficult course, where you have to master everything.
[ SallyRide/UCSD - 24 - 10:05:08 ]
RE: [MrsU] Hello. We are a second grade
from Illinois and have recently read a story about you in our reading
book.The children were wondering how you work the robot arm...do you use
The way you work the robot arm is by using two hand controllers: one that
moves the arm up and down and to the side; and the other rotates it. So
you use both hands at the same time to drive it where you want it to go.
[ SallyRide/UCSD - 25 - 10:07:07 ]
RE: [DWaughnHazard] What is it like
to go to sleep and then wake up in space? How do you feel?
It's easy to go to sleep in space. It's easy to get very comfortable because
you're just floating, but when you sleep all your muscles are relaxed
so in weightlessness your arms and legs automatically go into positions
where the muscles are relaxed. That means that your arms float up in front
of your face so sleeping astronauts look like they're in a science-fiction
[ SallyRide/UCSD - 27 - 10:10:45 ]
RE: [Yoshihide] How do you do, Dr. Sally
Ride! I'm glad to get this opportunity to speak with you. But I can't
speak and write English well. I shall do my best. Would you help me? I'm
having two questions. I'm hoping for the your answer. When you thought
you were the realy Astronaut in the your first mission as STS-7, the shuttle
was lift off, MECO, or the orbiter was touchdown? I think that your second
mission went to the Space with Dr.Kathryn Sullivan. What were you thinking
that she was doing EVA?
Your English is very good. STS-7 was a very exciting flight from liftoff
through MECO (Main Engine Cut-Off) and launch is much more exciting than
landing, although landing is a wonderful experience too. You're correct
that my second flight was with Dr. Kathy Sullivan and during that flight
she became the first woman to walk in space, which was very exciting for
all of us!
[ SallyRide/UCSD - 31 - 10:11:36 ]
RE: [Emily] Have you always planned
on having the profession that you have now?
Hi Emily, Yes I have. Ever since I was in college, I wanted to be first
an astronaut, and then a professor at a university.
[ SallyRide/UCSD - 32 - 10:15:28 ]
RE: [Sabrina] Hello Dr. Ride. I am one
of the student ambassadors going to watch STS-93 launch this summer. I
hope I can meet you there. I was wondering how the Challenger accident
impacted you? Did it create any anxiety about going back into space? What
made you choose research at a university after the investigation? What
other choices would you have had?
Hello Sabrina, I'm sure you'll enjoy the launch of STS-93. You probably
won't see me there, because I'll be in San Diego conducting an experiment
that will be flying on that flight. The Challenger accident had a strong
impact on all the astronauts, because 7 of our friends were killed in
the accident. It was very important to us that NASA stress and improve
the safety of the space shuttle, but we all felt confident that they did
that. So there was no additional anxiety once the space shuttle began
flying again. It had always been my plan to go back to research. The Challenger
accident didn't have anything to do with that.
[ SallyRide/UCSD - 33 - 10:18:27 ]
RE: [Lawrie] Sally hi (I'm an E.E. U
of F grad, particle physics),Do you have any plans to do particle/high
energy electrons experimentation in space, or direct such experiments
Hi Lawrie, I don't currently have any plans to be involved in high-energy
particle physics in space or in association with any other NASA programs.
My research is primarily theoretical work involving relativistic electron
beams and intense radiation.
[ SallyRide/UCSD - 37 - 10:19:45 ]
RE: [BillyW] Did you get space sick
on your first journey? How do you overcome that?
Hi Billy, No, I did not get space sick on either of my two space flights.
About half the astronauts do though, and there doesn't seem to be very
much they can do about it. The good news is that they all report that
it goes away in a day or two and then they feel fine for the rest of the
[ SallyRide/UCSD - 39 - 10:20:42 ]
RE: [MrsU] We have read that you have
a sister, Karen. Is she involved in the space program?
Yes, I do have a sister named Karen. Her nickname is Bear. She is not
involved in the space program. She is a Presbyterian minister.
[ SallyRide/UCSD - 40 - 10:23:16 ]
RE: [Jackie] On your mission, what was
your main job? And did you get more jobs that just one?
On both of my missions, I was what is called the flight engineer, which
means that I was one of the three astronauts, along with the commander
and the pilot who were involved in launch and re-entry. On my first flight
my main responsibility was operating the shuttle's robot arm, and I also
assisted in launching communication satellites and in conducting experiments.
On my second flight, I used the robot arm to release a satellite into
orbit and also assisted with the earth science experiments that we carried.
[ SallyRide/UCSD - 41 - 10:24:49 ]
RE: [Nancy] As a teacher assigned to
the Astronaut Ellison S. Onizuka Space Center in Hawaii, I would like
to know of your personal relationship with Ellison...did you know him
well? What personal impressions of him may I share with student groups
who visit our learning center?
Hello Nancy, Yes, I knew Ellison very well. He and I were part of the
same astronaut class in 1978, so we spent a lot of time together in classes
and on field trips. Ellison was a wonderful human being, and a very dedicated
and professional astronaut.
[ SallyRide/UCSD - 42 - 10:25:43 ]
RE: [MrsU] Do you still play tennis?
No, I haven't played tennis for a long time, but I'm now starting to play
[ SallyRide/UCSD - 46 - 10:28:58 ]
RE: [MrsSprouse] Hello! We are a mathematics
class from Greenville,SC. We want to know how math is important to astronauts.
Math is very important to astronauts. Almost all aspects of the space
shuttle flight involve the use of or understanding of math. One example
is that on my first flight when we released a satellite into orbit, we
used line-of-sight angles to the satellite to calculate its distance from
the shuttle. There are many more sophisticated uses.
[ SallyRide/UCSD - 47 - 10:30:48 ]
RE: [Jackie] Have you been on a "space
Hi Jackie, No, I have not been on a space walk. There was a space walk
on my second space shuttle flight. Before the flight we divide up the
responsibilities, and Kathy Sullivan and Dave Leestma were the astronauts
assigned to do the space walk.
[ SallyRide/UCSD - 51 - 10:32:42 ]
RE: [Nancy] What advice can you give
to young girls in school today as far as their future in the field of
Science is an exciting field for everyone. Whether it's as an astronaut
or an engineer in mission control or a scientist receiving data from Mars,
there are lots of exciting possibilities and all are open to women as
well as to men. The most important thing is to get a good background in
science while you're in school.
[ SallyRide/UCSD - 52 - 10:34:31 ]
RE: [ChelseafromMrsPetersonsclass] Did
you like the space food, and how is it different now?
Hi Chelsea, I liked some of the space food. It's not very different now,
but the food that's carried in the space shuttle is different and better
than the food that was carried in Mercury, Gemini and Apollo. For example
on my first flight we carried a jar of peanut butter and a loaf of bread
and packages of M&Ms.
[ SallyRide/UCSD - 53 - 10:35:25 ]
How did it feel to be the first female astronaught? What was the name
of your first space shuttle?
My first space shuttle was the Challenger, and I was very proud to be
the first American woman to go into space.
[ SallyRide/UCSD - 57 - 10:36:39 ]
RE: [KathrynBennett/NDSU] What were
you thinking during lift-off? Were you scared?
Lift-off is very exciting! There isn't really time to be scared, but it's
exhilarating and sometimes overwhelming.
[ SallyRide/UCSD - 58 - 10:37:50 ]
RE: [MrsU] We would like to go to Space
Camp some day. Did you go to Space Camp when you were little?
No, I did not go to Space Camp when I was little because at the time there
was no Space Camp, but I have visited Space Camp and I'm sure you'd enjoy
it very much.
[ SallyRide/UCSD - 62 - 10:40:37 ]
RE: [Danielle] Do you know if NASA is
going to do the things you suggested in your Ride Report?
In that report we recommended a few things. One was that NASA proceed
with Mission to Planet Earth and that is being done. We also recommended
emphasis on robotic planetary exploration and NASA is now pursuing a vigorous
program to explore Mars. Our main recommendation was to send astronauts
back to the Moon, and there are currently no plans to do that, although
NASA is investigating the possibility of sending astronauts to Mars in
10 years or so.
[ SallyRide/UCSD - 63 - 10:41:26 ]
RE: [MrsU] Do you still see the members
of the crew that you flew with?
Yes I do. I saw three of them last summer, and have seen all of them within
the last year or so. We remain very good friends.
[ SallyRide/UCSD - 64 - 10:42:13 ]
RE: [LindseyC] Which mission did you
like better of the two you went on?
I liked them both. My first was a little more exciting because I didn't
know what to expect.
[ SallyRide/UCSD - 67 - 10:43:25 ]
RE: [ErinfromMrsPetersonsclass] What
is your favorite space movie?
Hi Erin, Apollo 13 is my favorite space movie. By the way, that movie
is very realistic. It describes almost exactly what happened to the crew,
and how mission control responded to the problem.
[ SallyRide/UCSD - 70 - 10:46:38 ]
RE: [Doug] With personal computers within
the reach of nearly every student or professional, the world is much different
that when you were an astronaut. Computers have given us much greater
abilities to learn and communicate, but they do not substitute for real
life experience. Reading and computer simulation can only prepare us for
the real experiences. Do you think one can do too much preparation or
reading that would hamper experience, is there a time when we just do
it. I know that in sports, thinking too much sometimes causes performance
anxiety, just as thinking can cause anxiety to lecturers and actors. Sometimes
it is better not to think, but to let unconscious mind work, and focus
on the experience. Would you agree?
Hello Doug, I can't stress enough how important it is to be well prepared
for anything that might happen. That means you have to know the gory details
of every space shuttle system because if you do the wrong thing, it can
have unfortunate consequences. There is definitely room for creativity
and intuition, but all of that has to be based on a detailed understanding
of the situation.
[ SallyRide/UCSD - 74 - 10:48:04 ]
RE: [MikeP] How has your fame affected
you in your career and personal life?
I've managed to keep the same relationships with my friends that I had
before I was famous, and in my professional career I try to downplay the
fame and just be considered a normal person.
[ SallyRide/UCSD - 75 - 10:49:56 ]
RE: [MelissaN] Is it difficult to direct
the CSSI? What do you find most challenging about it?
I stepped down as director of the Institute about two years ago to be
able to focus more on my research and on teaching.
[ SallyRide/UCSD - 76 - 10:51:15 ]
RE: [MrsU] After John Glenn's successful
return to space, have you considered taking one more flight?
First of all, I think it was wonderful that John Glenn had a chance to
go into space again. I've thought about going back into space, but right
now I'm very happy at a university, so it certainly won't happen any time
[ SallyRide/UCSD - 78 - 10:53:31 ]
RE: [Sabrina] You mentioned the expirement
that will be flown on STS-93. Can you tell us more about that experiment?
This is an experiment sponsored by NASA's education division. We fly a
digital camera in the crew cabin of the shuttle. The astronauts mount
that camera so that it points to the Earth, and then we can control the
camera from the ground. The camera is actually controlled by middle school
students from their classrooms via the world wide web through a control
center at UCSD.
[ SallyRide/UCSD - 79 - 10:55:41 ]
RE: [KathrynBennett/NDSU] I read somewhere
that while studying the Challenger accident there were thoughts about
putting some sort of ejection system on the shuttle, do you know why they
decided against that?
Yes there was though of putting an ejection system in the space shuttle.
The study found that to eject the whole crew cabin safely would add so
much weight to the shuttle that it wouldn't be able to lift off. NASA
did add a way for the astronauts to jump out of the shuttle during re-entry,
close to landing, and then parachute to the ground.
[ SallyRide/UCSD - 80 - 10:56:12 ]
Thank you all for your questions. They were all very good ones, and I
enjoyed chatting with you.
[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 84 - 10:57:14
We will now be ending our chat with Sally Ride from the University of
California, San Diego. We would like to thank everyone for joining us
today. Our special thanks to Sally Ride for her thoughtful responses,
and sharing her career experience and expertise with us.
[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 85 - 10:57:38
We hope you can join us for our next Female Frontiers chat with Shirley
Temple-Black. This chat is scheduled for Friday, March 26 at 10:00 a.m.
Pacific Standard Time. Check the Female Frontiers chat schedule page at
to learn more about this chat. Also check our schedule of events page
to learn about other upcoming chats with NASA experts.
[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 86 - 10:58:15
As a reminder, please share your thoughts about today's chat with us at
[ YashV4thgrade/MontessoriSchoolofCorona - 87 - 11:14:15
Thank you Dr. Ride for answering all our questions and Thank you Oran
for making this chat possible.
[ Doug - 89 - 11:14:16 ]
Sally, I like your down to earth attitude, and your perspective on life.
As for training, I agree that competency is of paramount importance. There
is not much room for error when in space on a mission. Training is almost
everything, just as pilots train to make skills seem almost unconscious,
some skills become semiconditioned reflex. Problem solving is also a primary
attribute, which would come under the guise of creativity. I will try
to be thoughful.
[ Sabrina - 90 - 11:14:16 ]
Thank you very much for this opportunity!Im so excited about going to
the mission launch in the summer!