Sally Ride's family members include her mother, Carol Joyce Anderson Ride; her father, Dale Burdell Ride; and her sister Karen. She was married to Steve Hawley from 1982 until 1986. Her partner was Tam O'Shaughnessy after 1986.
Ride was born on May 26, 1951, in California. She attended Stanford University where she studied English and physics. Ride was a nationally ranked tennis player but decided to go to college and study science over a potential tennis career. She applied to NASA's training program in 1978 and was selected. She became the first American female astronaut when the Challenger space shuttle launched on June 18, 1983. Ride also flew on the 13th space shuttle flight and was in training for a third space shuttle mission when the Challenger exploded in January 1986.
After the explosion, she worked for NASA's administration and created the Office of Exploration as well as produced a report on the future of the space program. She left NASA in 1987 and became a professor of physics first at Stanford University and then at the University of California-San Diego. Ride wrote several books, including two children's books. She died of pancreatic cancer on July 23, 2012, at 61 years old.