Sally Kristen Ride
(born May 26
) is an American physicist
and a former NASA astronaut
who, in 1983, became the first American woman and youngest American (at the time) to enter outer space
. She was preceded by two Soviet
women, Valentina Tereshkova
(1963) and Svetlana Savitskaya
Early life and education
Sally Ride was born in Los Angeles
in 1951 , and is the oldest child of Carol Joyce (née
Anderson) and Dale Burdell Ride. She is of Norwegian
ancestry. Sally has a sister named Karen "Bearful" Ride, who became a Presbyterian minister. Dr. Ride attended Portola Middle School
and Westlake School for Girls
in Los Angeles (now Harvard-Westlake School
) on a scholarship, where she played tennis. In addition to being interested in science she was a nationally ranked tennis player. She initially attended Swarthmore College
but received her bachelor's degrees
) from Stanford University
near Palo Alto, California
. She then received a master's degree
and a Ph.D.
in physics at the same institution, while doing research in astrophysics
and free-electron laser physics.
Ride was one of 8,900 people to answer an advertisement in a newspaper seeking applicants for the space program. As a result, Ride joined NASA in 1978. During her career, Sally was the Capsule Communicator (CapCom) for the second and third Space Shuttle flights (STS-2 and STS-3) and helped develop the Space Shuttle's robot arm. On June 18, 1983, she became the first American woman in space as a crewmember on Space Shuttle Challenger for STS-7. On STS-7, the 5-person crew deployed two communications satellites, conducted pharmaceutical experiments, and was the first to use the robot arm in space and the first to use the arm to retrieve a satellite. Her second space flight was in 1984, also on board the Challenger. She has cumulatively spent more than 343 hours in space. Ride was 8 months into training for her third flight at the time of the Space Shuttle Challenger accident. She was named to the Presidential Commission investigating the accident, and headed its Subcommittee on Operations. After the investigation, Ride was assigned to NASA headquarters in Washington, DC. There she led NASA's first strategic planning effort, authoring a report entitled "Leadership and America's Future in Space", and founded NASA's Office of Exploration. Ride married fellow NASA Astronaut Steve Hawley in 1982, but the two divorced in 1987.
In 1987, Ride left to work at the Stanford University Center for International Security and Arms Control. In 1989, she became a professor of physics at the University of California, San Diego
and Director of the California Space Institute. In 2003, she was asked to serve on the Space Shuttle Columbia Accident Investigation Board. She is currently on leave from the university, and is the President and CEO of Sally Ride Science
, a company she founded in 2001, that creates entertaining science programs and publications for upper elementary and middle school students, with a particular focus on girls.
Ride has written or co-written multiple books on space, aimed at children with the goal of encouraging children to study science.
Awards and honors
Ride has received numerous honors and awards, including the Jefferson Award for Public Service, the von Braun Award, the Lindbergh Eagle, and the NCAA's Theodore Roosevelt Award. She has been inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame
, and the Astronaut Hall of Fame
, and has twice been awarded the National Spaceflight Medal. Ride is the only person to serve on both of the panels investigating Shuttle accidents (those for the Challenger accident
and the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster
). Two elementary schools in the United States are named after her: Sally K. Ride Elementary School in The Woodlands, Texas
, and Sally K. Ride Elementary School in Germantown, Maryland
On December 6, 2006, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and First Lady Maria Shriver inducted Ride into the California Hall of Fame located at The California Museum for History, Women, and the Arts.
- Ride, Sally Single Room, Earth View (expository essay). Sally Ride.
- Ride, Sally; Okie, Susan (1989). To Space and Back. New York: HarperTrophy.
- Ride, Sally; O'Shaughnessy, Tam E.; (1999). The Mystery of Mars. [New York]: Crown.
- Ride, Sally; O'Shaughnessy, Tam E. (2003). Exploring our Solar System. New York: Crown Publishers.
- Ride, Sally; O'Shaughnessy, Tam E. (2004). The Third Planet: Exploring the Earth from Space. Sally Ride Science.
- Sally Ride Science (2004). What Do You Want to Be? Explore Space Sciences. Sally Ride Science.
- Ride, Sally (2005). Voyager: An Adventure to the Edge of the Solar System. Sally Ride Science.
- Ride, Sally; Mike Goldsmith (2005). Space (Kingfisher Voyages). London: Kingfisher.
- Ride, Sally; Tam O'Shaughnessy (2008: Upcoming release). Climate Change: You Can Make A Difference. London: Roaring Brook Press.