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Meet: Sally Ride, First American Woman in Space

photo of sally ride

Sally Ride, former NASA Astronaut, was born on May 26, 1951 in Los Angeles, California. She graduated from Westlake High School in 1968 and received a Bachelor of Science in physics and a Bachelor of Arts in English in 1973 from Stanford University. She also received her Master of Science and doctorate degrees in physics from Stanford in 1975 and 1978.

Dr. Ride was selected for astronaut training in 1978, and reported to NASA in July of that year. As part of her training, she was a member of the support crew for both the second and third space shuttle flights, and worked in mission control as a capsule communicatory (CAPCOM) for those two missions.

Dr. Ride flew in space twice. Her first flight was aboard that space shuttle Challenger in 1983. The flight, commanded by Captain Robert Crippen, was launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on June 18. During the mission, the five-member crew deployed communications satellites for Canada and Indonesia, performed the first satellite deployment and retrieval with the shuttle's robot arm, and conducted materials and pharmaceutical research. Mission STS-7 was in orbit for 6 days (147 hours), then returned to earth to land on a lakebed runway at Edwards Air Force Base, California on June 24, 1983.

Dr. Ride's second spaceflight was also aboard Challenger, on STS-41G (the thirteenth space shuttle flight), in October, 1984. This flight was also commanded by Captain Robert Crippen. During their 8-day mission, the crew deployed the Earth Radiation Budget satellite, conducted scientific observations of the Earth, and demonstrated the potential for satellite refueling by astronauts. The mission lasted 197 hours, and concluded with a landing at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

In June, 1985, Dr. Ride was assigned to a third space shuttle flight. Training for that flight was interrupted in January, 1986 by the space shuttle Challenger accident. For the next six months she served as a memeber of the Presidential Commission investigating the accident. Upon completion of the investigation, Dr. Ride was assigned to NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C. as assistant to the NASA Administrator for long-range planning. In this role she created NASA's Office of Exploration and produced a report on the future of the space program entitled "Leadership and America's Furture in Space."

Dr. Ride has written a children't book, To Space and Back, describing her experiences in space, has received the Jefferson Award for Public Service, and has twice been awarded the National Spaceflight Medal. Her latest books, Voyager: An Adventure to the Edge of The Solar System and The Third Planet: Exploring The Earth From Space are currently in bookstores.

Dr. Ride is currently a physicist and a member of the faculty at the University of California. San Diego, as a physics professor. Dr. Ride is a member of the President's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology. She is the former Director of the California Space Science Institute, a research institute of the University of California.

Archived QuestChats with Sally Ride


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