Meet Sally Kristen Ride. Most of us have some sort of memory of her, right? Because she is still alive!
She was born in Encino, California where she spent much time going to school, and playing tennis. She began playing tennis at age 10, and was nationally ranked by the time she was college aged. She was accepted to, and began her education at Swarthmore College, but dropped out to pursue a tennis career. 3 months of this showed her she wasn't cut out for this, so, she enrolled at Stanford. She graduated at 27 years old, with a B.A., B.S. and a Master's Degree. (in Physics) She decided to to her doctorate work in astrophysics, also at Stanford. During this time, NASA put out a call in the Stanford paper looking for astronaut candidates. She was one one of 8000 to apply, and one of SIX women to be accepted into the program. Only 35 people were chosen out of the 8000.
She went through rigorous training at NASA, parachute jumping, water survival, gravity and weightlessness training (if only we could all have 'weightlessness training'.). She enjoyed the flight training so much it became her favorite hobby. During her training, she was the Capsule Communicator for the second, and third Space Shuttle flights, and helped to develop the Space Shuttle's robot arm.
On June 18, 1983, she became the first American woman in space, as a crewmember on the Space Shuttle Challenger. They deployed 2 communication sattellites, did some pharmaceutical experiments, and were the first to use the robot arm. She went up again, on the Challenger, in 1984. She was in training for her 3rd flight when the Challenger exploded. After that, she was named to the Presidential Commission for investigating the accident, and headed the subcommittee on Operations. After the investigation, she was then assigned to NASA headquarters in Washington, DC. While there, she became more involved with the future of the Space program, writing a report called "Leadership and America's future in space", and she founded NASA's Office of Exploration.
She left NASA in 1987, and took a job back at Stanford, at the Stanford University Center for International Security and Arms Control. During this time, she was briefly married to another astronaut. It ended in divorce. In 1989, she became a professor of physics as UC San Diego, and the director of the California Space Institute. In 2003, she was asked to serve on the SPace Shuttle Columbia Accident Investigation board.
Now on leave from the University, she is the president, and CEO of Sally Ride Science, a company she founded in 2001 that creates science programs, and publications for elementary and middle school students, with a particular focus on girls. She has also written, and co-written multiple books about space, aimed at children, to encourage them to study science.
She has won multiple awards, including the Lindbergh Eagle,and the National Spaceflight Medal, twice. She has been inducted into the National Woman's Hall of Fame, and the Astronaut Hall of Fame. 2 elementary schools are named after her, (Texas, and Maryland), and she was also inducted into the California Hall of Fame.
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