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Most people know Dr. Sally Kristen Ride simply as Sally Ride. She is a physicist and former NASA astronaut. She joined NASA in 1978, and in 1983, became the first American woman, and, at the time, the youngest American to enter space.
Sally Ride was one of 8,000 people to answer an improbable newspaper advertisement seeking applicants for the space program. As a result, she was able to join NASA in 1978. During her career, she served as the Capsule Communicator(CapCom) for the second and third Space Shuttle flights and helped develop the Space Shuttle’s robotic arm.
On June 18, 1983, she became the first American woman, third woman overall, in space as a crew member on the STS-7 mission. During the mission the five-person crew deployed two communications satellites and conducted pharmaceutical experiments, Ride was the first woman to use the robot arm in space and the first to use the arm to retrieve a satellite. She went into space a second time in 1984, also on board the Challenger. She has spent more than 343 hours in space. She was in training for her third flight when the Challenger accident occurred. She was appointed to the Presidential commission that investigated that accident. After the investigation, she went to work at NASA headquarters in Washington DC where she led NASA’s first strategic planning effort.
Sally Ride left NASA in 1987 to work at the Center for International Security and Arms Control. Two years later she became a professor of physics and Director of the California Space Institute. She is currently the President and CEO of Sally Ride Science, a company that creates entertaining science programs and publications for upper elementary and middle school students.
If you’d like more information on Sally Ride, here’s a link to the Biography of Sally Ride, and here’s the link to NASA Quest’s page about the Women of NASA.
We’ve recorded an episode of Astronomy Cast all about the space shuttle. Listen here, Episode 127: The US Space Shuttle.