Sally K. Ride, America's First Woman Astronaut

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 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 communicator (CAPCOM) for those two missions.

Dr. Ride flew in space twice. Her first flight was aboard the 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 STA-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.

Sally K. Ride

Dr. Sally K. Ride, Photo courtesy of NASA

Dr. Sally K. Ride is currently a professor of physics at the University of California, San Diego. She is also co-founder and CEO of Imaginary Lines, Inc., a company dedicated to encouraging more young girls of middle school age to pursue math and science. Dr. Ride also served as president of the Internet company Dr. Ride is a former member of the President's Committee of Advisors on Space and Technology, has received the Jefferson Award for Public Service, and has twice been awarded the National Spaceflight Medal.

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