Sally Ride, First American Woman In Space, Gone At 61
By Mack Rawden 2012-07-23 16:59:41
In 1978, NASA placed an advertisement in a newspaper seeking applicants for its space program. More than eight thousand applied, and out of that group, thirty-five were chosen. Few, if any, were more qualified than Sally Ride. She had a PhD from Stanford in physics and a dream to head into space. Five years later, she got her chance, becoming the first American woman and youngest member of the NASA program ever to orbit around the Earth. A year later, she boarded the Challenger a second time and would have done so again had it not been for the tragic explosion in 1986. She was part of the committee that investigated the accident and was, by all accounts, a sympathetic and educated voice during the investigation.
After leaving NASA in ’87, Ride took a job with Stanford and later joined the faculty at the University of California, San Diego. She also was hired as the Director of the California Space Institute and wrote five children’s books. In recent years, she founded Sally Ride Science, an organization intended to offer opportunities for young girls to try their hands at science. The goal, she said many times, wasn’t to make young girls be scientists but to offer them the tools needed to see whether they would like to be scientists.
After a lengthy bout with pancreatic cancer, Ride died this week at the age of sixty-one. Sally Ride Science will live on in her honor, as will the goals and dreams she fought so hard for. She was a brilliant, driven woman, and her accomplishments will stand the test of time.
Ride is survived by her partner of twenty-seven years, Tam O’Shaughnessy, as well as several other family members. Pop Blend sends out its deepest condolences to all those touched by her life.