Brilliant Brains

Sally Ride – First American Woman in Space

Last Updated on July 4, 2020 by Darshan Modi

Everyone will have the desire to be a pioneer in a particular thing or field. Many people try hard with strong hope to become so and some have inner ability for achieving the same. People achieving great things are known by the world but who achieved that first will create a mark in everyone’s mind. Here we are going to know about the first American woman in space whose name is Sally Ride. It’s obviously great to be the pioneer right!

Sally Ride
Sally Ride

Sally Ride Superhuman Superpower

Sally Ride is the first and youngest American woman astronaut to fly to space. She was the first ever woman who operated the shuttle’s robotic arm as part of the team’s mission to launch communication satellites.

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Sally Kristen Ride was born on 26th May, 1951 in Encino, Los Angeles, California, U.S.

Early Life of Sally Ride

Along with her parents Dale Burdell Ride and Carol Joyce (née Anderson) and young sibling Karen “Bear” Ride, Sally Ride lived in Los Angeles. She attended Portola Junior High school, Birmingham High School and private Westlake School for Girls on a partial tennis scholarship. At school level, Sally was a nationally ranked tennis player as a junior and instructor which gained her scholarship for her studies. Ride had a brief professional tennis career. She enjoyed tennis, running, volleyball, softball and stamp collecting. Before entering Stanford University, she attended Swarthmore College and University of California.

Sally Ride received her bachelor’s degree in physics and English (1973), master’s degree (1975) and a PhD in physics (1978) at Stanford University. She did her research on the interaction of X-rays with the interstellar medium. Her specific areas of study were astrophysics and free electron lasers. After that, Ride applied to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on seeing an article in the student newspaper saying that NASA was seeking for astronaut candidates and also for female astronauts for the first time.

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About Sally Ride

Sally Ride is the physicist, educator, scientist, first female U.S. astronaut and co-founder of Sally Ride Science. After completing her studies in Stanford University, Ride applied to NASA like the other 8000 candidates among which 35 were selected including 6 women. And without doubt Sally was one among the selected female astronauts and she began her rigorous spaceflight training in 1978. She served as the ground-based capsule communicator (CapCom) for the second and third space shuttle flights (STS-2 and STS-3) and helped develop the space shuttle’s Canadarm robot arm.

In the year 1979, Sally became eligible for assignment as an astronaut on a space shuttle flight crew. Ride married her fellow astronaut Steven Hawley in 1982 and they got divorced in 1987. She was selected as a mission specialist for mission STS-7 aboard the shuttle Challenger in the year 1983 and was part of NASA’s 7th shuttle mission. She was only 32 years old when she experienced the space travel which was launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on June 18, 1983 and returned to earth by landing on a lakebed runway at Edwards Air Force Base, on June 24, 1983. This first mission with a five-person crew lasted 147 hours. This mission made her the first American woman to travel to space.

Sally’s second space flight was in the 13th shuttle flight, STS 41-G in the year in 1984 in which she spent more than 343 hours in space. Her third mission training was halted due to explosion of Challenger. She served on the presidential commission investigating the tragedy. She was assigned as special assistant to the administrator to NASA headquarters for long-range and strategic planning after the completion of investigation. She wrote an influential report entitled Leadership and America’s Future in Space and became the first director of NASA’s Office of Exploration.

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Sally Ride received numerous awards and honours. She launched a science outreach company named Sally Ride Science and also wrote books on science along with her co-partner Tam O’Shaughness who was her childhood friend.

In the year 2012, Sally Ride died due to pancreatic cancer at La Jolla, California and at that time she was 61 years old. She has passed away from this world but she will always be remembered by the world as the first American female astronaut to walk in space.

Genetic or Learned

The interest of Sally Ride moved towards science as her parents implanted the importance of exploring but she learned more about science to become the first American woman astronaut to walk in space.

Names Known by

  • The first American woman in space

Official Website

Sally Ride Youtube Videos

Featured In

  • NASA website
  • NOVA: Interview
  • People: Cover Story
  • Space Safety Magazine
  • EarthSky
  • Biography
  • BBC
  • New York Times
  • Daily Mail UK

Books Published by Sally Ride

  • Sally Ride: A Photobiography of America’s Pioneering Woman in Space
  • Mission: Planet Earth
  • Mission: Save the Planet
  • Exploring Our Solar System
  • The Mystery of Mars
  • The Third Planet
  • Voyager: An Adventure to the Edge of the Solar System
  • To Space and Back