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Sally Ride

Sally Ride

Sally Ride (born 1951) is best known as the first American woman sent into outer space. She also served the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in an advisory capacity, being the only astronaut chosen for President Ronald Reagan's Rogers Commission investigating the mid-launch explosion of the space shuttle Challenger in January, 1986, writing official recommendation reports, and creating NASA's Office of Exploration.

Both scientist and professor, Sally Ride has served as a fellow at the Stanford University Center for International Security and Arms Control, a member of the board of directors at Apple Computer Inc., and a space institute director and physics professor at the University of California at San Diego. Ride has chosen to write primarily for children about space travel and exploration. Her commitment to educating the young earned her the Jefferson Award for Public Service from the American Institute for Public Service in 1984, in addition to her National Space-flight Medals recognizing her two groundbreaking shuttle missions in 1983 and 1984. Newly elected president Bill Clinton chose her as a member of his transition team during the fall of 1992.

Sally Kristen Ride is the older daughter of Dale Burdell and Carol Joyce (Anderson) Ride of Encino, California, and was born May 26, 1951. As author Karen O'Connor describes tomboy Ride in her young reader's book, Sally Ride and the New Astronauts, Sally would race her dad for the sports section of the newspaper when she was only five years old. An active, adventurous, yet also scholarly family, the Rides traveled throughout Europe for a year when Sally was nine and her sister Karen was seven, after Dale took a sabbatical from his political science professorship at Santa Monica Community College. While Karen was inspired to become a minister, in the spirit of her parents, who were elders in their Presbyterian church, Ride's own developing taste for exploration would eventually lead her to apply to the space program almost on a whim. "I don't know why I wanted to do it," she confessed to Newsweek prior to embarking on her first spaceflight.

The opportunity was serendipitous, since the year she began job-hunting marked the first time NASA had opened its space program to applicants since the late 1960s, and the very first time women would not be excluded from consideration. NASA needed to cast a wider net than ever before, as Current Biography disclosed in 1983. The program paid less than private sector counterparts and offered no particular research specialties, unlike most job opportunities in academia. All it took was a return reply postcard, and Ride was in the mood to take those risks. This was, after all, a young lady who could patch up a disabled Toyota with Scotch tape without breaking stride, as one of her friends once discovered. Besides, she had always forged her own way before with the full support of her open-minded family.

From her earliest years in school, Ride was so proficient and efficient at once, she proved to be an outright annoyance to some of her teachers. Though she was a straight-A student, she was easily bored, and her brilliance only came to the fore in high school, when she was introduced to the world of science by her physiology teacher. The impact of this mentor, Dr. Elizabeth Mommaerts, was so profound that Ride would later dedicate her first book primarily to her, as well as the fallen crew of the Challenger. While she was adaptable to all forms of sport, playing tennis was Ride's most outstanding talent, which she had developed since the age of ten. Under the tutelage of a four-time U.S. Open champion, Ride eventually ranked eighteenth nationally on the junior circuit. Her ability won her a partial scholarship to Westlake School for Girls, a prep school in Los Angeles. After graduating from there in 1968, Ride preferred to work on her game full time instead of the physics program at Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania, where she had originally enrolled. It was only after Ride had fully tested her dedication to the game that she decided against a professional career, even though tennis pro Billie Jean King had once told her it was within her grasp. Back in California as an undergraduate student at Stanford University, Ride followed her burgeoning love for Shakespeare to a double major, receiving B.S. and B.A. degrees in tandem by 1973. She narrowed her focus to physics for her masters, also from Stanford, awarded in 1975. Work toward her dissertation continued at Stanford; she submitted "The Interaction of X-Rays with the Interstellar Medium" in 1978.

Ride was just finishing her Ph.D. candidacy in physics, astronomy, and astrophysics at Stanford, working as a research assistant, when she got the call from NASA. She became one of thirty-five chosen from an original field of applicants numbering eight thousand for the spaceflight training of 1978. "Why I was selected remains a complete mystery," she later admitted to John Grossmann in a 1985 interview in Health. "None of us has ever been told." Even after three years of studying X-ray astrophysics, Ride had to go back to the classroom to gain skills to be part of a team of astronauts. The program included basic science and math, meteorology, guidance, navigation, and computers as well as flight training on a T-38 jet trainer and other operational simulations. Ride was selected as part of the ground-support crew for the second (November, 1981) and third (March, 1982) shuttle flights, her duties including the role of "capcom," or capsule communicator, relaying commands from the ground to the shuttle crew. These experiences prepared her to be an astronaut.

Ride would subsequently become, at thirty-one, the youngest person sent into orbit as well as the first American woman in space, the first American woman to make two spaceflights, and, coincidentally, the first astronaut to marry another astronaut in active duty. She and Steven Alan Hawley were married at the groom's family home in Kansas on July 26, 1982. Hawley, a Ph.D. from the University of California, had joined NASA with a background in astronomy and astrophysics. When asked during a hearing by Congressman Larry Winn, Jr., of the House Committee on Science and Technology, how she would feel when Hawley was in space while she remained earthbound, Ride replied, "I am going to be a very interested observer." The pair were eventually divorced.

Ride points to her fellow female astronauts Anna Fisher, Shannon Lucid, Judith Resnik, Margaret Seddon, and Kathryn Sullivan with pride. Since these women were chosen for training, Ride's own experience could not be dismissed as tokenism, which had been the unfortunate fate of the first woman in orbit, the Soviet Union's Valentina Tereshkova, a textile worker. Ride expressed her concern to Newsweek reporter Pamela Abramson in the week before her initial shuttle trip. "It's important to me that people don't think I was picked for the flight because I am a woman and it's time for NASA to send one."

From June 18 to June 24, 1983, flight STS-7 of the space shuttle Challenger launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, orbited the Earth for six days, returned to Earth, and landed at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Among the shuttle team's missions were the deployment of international satellites and numerous research experiments supplied by a range of groups, from a naval research lab to various high school students. With Ride operating the shuttle's robot arm in cooperation with Colonel John M. Fabian of the U.S. Air Force, the first satellite deployment and retrieval using such an arm was successfully performed in space during the flight.

Ride was also chosen for Challenger flight STS-41G, which transpired between October 5 and October 13, 1984. This time, the robot arm was put to some unusual applications, including "ice-busting" on the shuttle's exterior and readjusting a radar antenna. According to Henry S.F. Cooper, Jr., in his book Before Lift-off, fellow team member Ted Browder felt that because Ride was so resourceful and willing to take the initiative, less experienced astronauts on the flight might come to depend upon her rather than develop their own skills, but this mission also met with great success. Objectives during this longer period in orbit covered scientific observations of the Earth, demonstrations of potential satellite refueling techniques, and deployment of a satellite. As STS-7 had been, STS-41G was led by Captain Robert L. Crippen of the U.S. Navy to a smooth landing, this time in Florida.

Ride had been chosen for a third scheduled flight, but training was cut short in January, 1986, when the space shuttle Challenger exploded in midair shortly after takeoff. The twelve-foot rubber O-rings that serve as washers between steel segments of the rocket boosters, already considered problematic, failed under stress, killing the entire crew. Judy Resnik, one of the victims, had flown as a rookie astronaut on STS-41G. Ride remembered her in Ms. magazine as empathetic, sharing "the same feelings that there was good news and bad news in being accepted to be the first one." As revealed a few months later in the Chicago Tribune, program members at NASA began to feel that their safety had been willfully compromised without their knowledge. "I think that we may have been misleading people into thinking that this is a routine operation," Ride was quoted as saying.

Ride herself tried to remedy that misconception with her subsequent work on the Rogers Commission and as special assistant for long-range and strategic planning to NASA Administrator James C. Fletcher in Washington, D.C., during 1986 and 1987. In keeping with the Rogers Commission recommendations, which Ride helped to shape, especially regarding the inclusion of astronauts at management levels, Robert Crippen was eventually made Deputy Director for Space Shuttle Operations in Washington, D.C., as well.

As leader of a task force on the future of the space program, Ride wrote Leadership and America's Future in Space. According to Aviation Week and Space Technology, this status report initiated a proposal to redefine NASA goals as a means to prevent the "space race" mentality that might pressure management and personnel into taking untoward risks. "A single goal is not a panacea," the work stated in its preface. "The problems facing the space program must be met head-on, not oversimplified." The overall thrust of NASA's agenda, Ride suggested, should take environmental and international research goals into consideration. A pledge to inform the public and capture the interest of youngsters should be taken as a given. Ride cited a 1986 work decrying the lack of math and science proficiency among American high school graduates, a mere six percent of whom are fluent in these fields, compared to up to ninety percent in other nations.

While with NASA, Ride traveled with fellow corps members to speak to high school and college students on a monthly basis. As former English tutor Joyce Ride once told a Boston Globe reporter, her daughter had developed scientific interests she herself harbored in younger days, before encountering a wall of silence in a college physics class as a coed at the University of California in Los Angeles. As Joyce remarked, she and the only other young woman in the class were "nonpersons." Speaking at Smith College in 1985, Sally Ride announced that encouraging women to enter math and science disciplines was her "personal crusade." Ride noted in Publishers Weekly the next year that her ambition to write children's books had been met with some dismay by publishing houses more in the mood to read an autobiography targeted for an adult audience. Her youth-oriented books were both written with childhood friends. Susan Okie, coauthor of To Space and Back, eventually became a journalist with the Washington Post. Voyager coauthor Tam O'Shaughnessy, once a fellow competition tennis player, grew up to develop workshops on scientific teaching skills.

Ride left NASA in 1987 for Stanford's Center for International Security and Arms Control, and two years later she became director of the California Space Institute and physics professor at the University of California at San Diego. She has flown Grumman Tiger aircraft in her spare time since getting her pilot's license. The former astronaut keeps in shape, when not teaching or fulfilling the duties of her various professional posts, by running and engaging in other sports, although she once told Health magazine she winds up eating junk food a lot. Ride admitted that she didn't like to run but added, "I like being in shape."

Further Reading

Astronauts and Cosmonauts Biographical and Statistical Data, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1989.

Cooper, Henry S. F., Jr., Before Lift-off, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1987.

Current Biography, H. W. Wilson, 1983, pp. 318-21.

Hearing before the Committee on Science and Technology, U.S. House of Representatives, Ninety-eighth Congress, First Session, July 19, 1983, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1983.

O'Connor, Karen, Sally Ride and the New Astronauts: Scientists in Space, F. Watts, 1983.

Adler, Jerry, and Pamela Abramson, "Sally Ride: Ready for Lift-off," in Newsweek, June 13, 1983, pp. 36-40, 45, 49, 51.

Caldwell, Jean, "Astronaut Ride Urges Women to Study Math," in Boston Globe, June 30, 1985, pp. B90, B92.

Covault, Craig, "Ride Panel Calls for Aggressive Action to Assert U.S. Leadership in Space," in Aviation Week and Space Technology, August 24, 1987, pp. 26-27.

Goodwin, Irwin, "Sally Ride to Leave NASA Orbit; Exodus at NSF," in Physics Today, July, 1987, p. 45.

Grossmann, John, "Sally Ride, Ph.D.," in Health, August, 1985, pp. 73-74, 76.

Ingwerson, Marshall, "Clinton Transition Team Takes on Pragmatic Cast," in Christian Science Monitor, November 30, 1992, p. 3.

Lowther, William, "A High Ride through the Sex Barrier," in Maclean's, June 27, 1983, pp. 40-41.

Peterson, Sarah, "Just Another Astronaut," in U.S. News and World Report, November 29, 1982, pp. 50-51.

Roback, Diane, "Sally Ride: Astronaut and Now Author," in Publishers Weekly, November 28, 1986, pp. 42, 44.

Rowley, Storer, and Michael Tackett, "Internal Memo Charges NASA Compromised Safety," in Chicago Tribune, March 9, 1986, section 1, p. 8.

Sherr, Lynn, "Remembering Judy: The Five Women Astronauts Who Trained with Judy Resnik Remember Her … and That Day," in Ms., June, 1986, p. 57.

Sherr, "A Mission to Planet Earth: Astronaut Sally Ride Talks to Lynn Sherr about Peaceful Uses of Space," in Ms., July/August, 1987, pp. 180-81. □

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Ride, Sally (1951- )

Ride, Sally (1951- )

American astronaut

Sally Ride is best known as the first American woman sent into outer space . She also served the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in an advisory capacity, and was the only astronaut chosen for President Ronald Reagan's Rogers Commission investigating the mid-launch explosion of the space shuttle Challenger in January, 1986, writing official recommendation reports and creating NASA's Office of Exploration. Both scientist and professor, she has served as a fellow at the Stanford University Center for International Security and Arms Control, a member of the board of directors at Apple Computer Inc., and a space institute director and physics professor at the University of California at San Diego. Ride has chosen to write primarily for children about space travel and exploration. Her commitment to educating the young earned her the Jefferson Award for Public Service from the American Institute for Public Service in 1984, in addition to her National Spaceflight Medals recognizing her two groundbreaking shuttle missions in 1983 and 1984.

Sally Kristen Ride is the older daughter of Dale Burdell and Carol Joyce (Anderson) Ride of Encino, California, and was born May 26, 1951. As author Karen O'Connor describes tomboy Ride in her young reader's book, Sally Ride and the New Astronauts, Sally would race her dad for the sports section of the newspaper when she was only five years old. An active, adventurous, yet also scholarly family, the Rides traveled throughout Europe for a year when Sally was nine and her

sister Karen was seven after Dale took a sabbatical from his political science professorship at Santa Monica Community College. While sister Karen was inspired to become a minister, in the spirit of her parents who were elders in their Presbyterian church, Sally Ride's own developing taste for exploration would eventually lead her to apply to the space program almost on a whim. "I don't know why I wanted to do it," she confessed to Newsweek prior to embarking on her first spaceflight.

From her earliest years in school, Ride was so proficient and efficient at once, she proved to be an outright annoyance to some of her teachers. Though she was a straight-A student she was easily bored, and her intellect only came to the fore in high school when she was introduced to the world of science by her physiology teacher. The impact of this mentor, Dr. Elizabeth Mommaerts, was so profound that Ride would later dedicate her first book primarily to her, as well as the fallen crew of the Challenger. While she was adept at all forms of sport, playing tennis was Ride's most outstanding talent, which she had developed since the age of ten. Under the tutelage of a four-time U.S. Open champion, Ride eventually ranked eighteenth nationally on the junior circuit. Her ability won her a partial scholarship to Westlake School for Girls, a prep school in Los Angeles. After graduating from there in 1968, Ride preferred to work on her game full time instead of the physics program at Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania, where she had originally enrolled. It was only after Ride had fully tested her dedication to the game that she decided against a professional career, even though tennis pro Billie Jean King had once told her it was within her grasp. Back in California as an undergraduate student at Stanford University, Ride followed her burgeoning love for Shakespeare to a double major, receiving B.S. and B.A. degrees in tandem by 1973. She narrowed her focus to physics for her masters, also from Stanford, awarded in 1975. Work toward her dissertation continued at Stanford; she submitted "The Interaction of X Rays with the Interstellar Medium" in 1978.

Ride was just finishing her Ph.D. candidacy in physics, astronomy , and astrophysics at Stanford working as a research assistant when she got the call from NASA. She became one of 35 chosen from an original field of applicants numbering 8,000 for the spaceflight training of 1978. "Why I was selected remains a complete mystery," she later admitted to John Grossmann in a 1985 interview in Health. "None of us has ever been told." Even after three years of studying x-ray astrophysics, Ride had to go back to the classroom to gain skills to be part of a team of astronauts. The program included basic science and math, meteorology , guidance, navigation, and computers as well as flight training on a T-38 jet trainer and other operational simulations. Ride was selected as part of the ground-support crew for the second (November, 1981) and third (March, 1982) shuttle flights, her duties including the role of "capcom," or capsule communicator, relaying commands from the ground to the shuttle crew. These experiences prepared her to be an astronaut.

Ride would subsequently become, at 31, the youngest person sent into orbit as well as the first American woman in space, the first American woman to make two spaceflights, and, coincidentally, the first astronaut to marry another astronaut in active duty. She and Steven Alan Hawley were married in 1982. Hawley, a Ph.D. from the University of California, had joined NASA with a background in astronomy and astrophysics. When asked during a hearing by Congressman Larry Winn, Jr. of the House Committee on Science and Technology how she would feel when Hawley was in space while she remained earthbound, Ride replied, "I am going to be a very interested observer." Eventually, the couple divorced.

Ride points to her fellow female astronauts Anna Fisher, Shannon Lucid, Judith Resnik, Margaret Seddon, and Kathryn Sullivan with pride. Since these women were chosen for training, Ride's own experience could not be dismissed as tokenism, which had been the unfortunate fate of the first woman in orbit, the Soviet Union's Valentina Tereshkova , a textile worker. Ride expressed her concern to Newsweek reporter Pamela Abramson in the week before her initial shuttle trip: "It's important to me that people don't think I was picked for the flight because I am a woman and it's time for NASA to send one."

From June 18 to June 24, 1983, flight STS-7 of the space shuttle Challenger launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, orbited the earth for six days, returned to Earth, and landed at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Among the shuttle team's missions were the deployment of international satellites and numerous research experiments supplied by a range of groups, from a naval research lab to various high school students. With Ride operating the shuttle's robot arm in cooperation with Colonel John M. Fabian of the U.S. Air Force, the first satellite deployment and retrieval using such an arm was successfully performed in space during the flight.

Ride was also chosen for Challenger flight STS-41G, which transpired between October 5 and October 13, 1984. This time the robot arm was put to some unusual applications, including "ice-busting" on the shuttle's exterior and readjusting a radar antenna. According to Henry S. F. Cooper, Jr., in his book Before Lift-off, fellow team member Ted Browder felt that because Ride was so resourceful and willing to take the initiative, less experienced astronauts on the flight might come to depend upon her rather than develop their own skills, but this mission also met with great success. Objectives during this longer period in orbit covered scientific observations of the earth, demonstrations of potential satellite refueling techniques, and deployment of a satellite. As STS-7 had been, STS-41G was led by Captain Robert L. Crippen of the U.S. Navy to a smooth landing, this time in Florida.

As leader of a task force on the future of the space program, Ride wrote Leadership and America's Future in Space. According to Aviation Week and Space Technology, this status report initiated a proposal to redefine NASA goals as a means to prevent the "space race" mentality that might pressure management and personnel into taking untoward risks. "A single goal is not a panacea," the work stated in its preface. "The problems facing the space program must be met head-on, not oversimplified." The overall thrust of NASA's agenda, Ride suggested, should take environmental and international research goals into consideration. A pledge to inform the public and capture the interest of youngsters should be taken as a given. Ride cited a 1986 work decrying the lack of math and science proficiency among American high school graduates, a mere 6% of whom are fluent in these fields, compared to up to 90% in other nations.

While with NASA, Ride traveled with fellow corps members to speak to high school and college students on a monthly basis. Speaking at Smith College in 1985, she announced that encouraging women to enter math and science disciplines was her "personal crusade." Ride noted in Publishers Weekly the next year that her ambition to write children's books had been met with some dismay by publishing houses more in the mood to read an autobiography targeted for an adult audience. Her youth-oriented books were both written with childhood friends. Susan Okie, coauthor of To Space and Back, eventually became a journalist with the Washington Post. Voyager coauthor Tam O'Shaughnessy, once a fellow competition tennis player, grew up to develop workshops on scientific teaching skills.

Ride left NASA in 1987 for Stanford's Center for International Security and Arms Control, and two years later she became director of the California Space Institute and physics professor at the University of California at San Diego. She has flown Grumman Tiger aircraft in her spare time since getting her pilot's license. The former astronaut keeps in shape when not teaching or fulfilling the duties of her various professional posts by running and engaging in other sports, although she once told Health magazine she often winds up eating junk food. Ride admitted not liking to run but added, "I like being in shape."

See also Space physiology; Spacecraft, manned

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Ride, Sally

Sally Ride

Born: May 26, 1951
Los Angeles, California

American astronaut and physicist

Sally Ride is best known as the first American woman sent into outer space, and she is also the youngest person ever sent into orbit. She has received numerous medals and honors for her work as an astronaut, and for her commitment to educating the young.

Early life

Sally Kristen Ride is the older of two daughters of Dale B. Ride and Carol Joyce (Anderson) Ride of Encino, California. She was born May 26, 1951. Her father was a professor of political science and her mother was a counselor. Her parents encouraged Sally and her younger sister Karen to study hard and do their best, but allowed the children the freedom to develop at their own pace. In 1983 Newsweek quoted Dale B. Ride as saying, "We might have encouraged, but mostly we just let them explore."

Ride showed natural athletic ability as a youngster, often playing baseball and football with the neighborhood children. Although she liked all sports, tennis was her favorite. She had developed her tennis skills since the age of ten. Ride eventually ranked eighteenth on the national junior tennis circuit.

Student sets own agenda

Ride's tennis ability won her a partial scholarship to Westlake School for Girls, a prep school in Los Angeles. From her earliest years in school, Ride had gotten straight A grades. She did a lot of reading, often science fiction. However, sometimes she did not apply herself to her studies. In her junior year of high school she became interested in the study of physics, through the influence of her science teacher, Elizabeth Mommaerts.

After graduating from high school in 1968, Ride enrolled in the physics program at Swarthmore College, in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. However, she continued to devote a large amount of time and energy to tennis and soon left college to work on her game full time. Tennis pro Billie Jean King (1943) told Ride she had the talent to pursue a professional career in tennis.

Ride eventually decided not to pursue tennis. Instead, she returned to California as an undergraduate student at Stanford University. She received a bachelor's degree in both physics and English literature in 1973. She also received her master's degree from Stanford in 1975. She continued work toward her doctoral degree in physics, astronomy, and astrophysics (the study of the physical elements that make up the universe) at Stanford and submitted her dissertation (a long essay written by a candidate for a doctoral degree) in 1978.

Into the wild blue yonder

At about the same time National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was looking for young scientists to be "mission specialists" on space flights. Ride applied and was selected for space flight training in 1978. She was one of only thirty-five chosen from eight thousand applicants. As part of her training, Ride had to study basic science and math, meteorology (weather and climate), guidance, navigation, and computers. She trained for flying on a T-38 jet trainer and other simulators (devices that are modeled after real crafts to create similar sensations for training pilots).

Ride was selected as part of the ground-support crew for the second (November, 1981) and third (March, 1982) shuttle flights. Her duties included the role of "capcom," or capsule communicator. The "capcom" relays commands from the ground to the shuttle crew. These experiences prepared her to be an astronaut.

Before Ride's first shuttle flight, George W.S. Abbey, NASA's director of flight operations, described her as an ideal choice for the crew. He noted that she had "an unusual flair for solving difficult engineering problems" and that she was a "team player." On the seventh mission of the space shuttle Challenger (June 18 to June 24, 1983), Ride served as flight engineer. With John M. Fabian she launched communications satellites for Canada and Indonesia. They also conducted the first successful satellite deployment and retrieval in space using the shuttle's remote manipulator arm.

In this way, at thirty-one, Ride became the youngest person sent into orbit as well as the first American woman in space. Ride points to her fellow female astronauts with pride. She feels that since these women were chosen for training, Ride's own experience could not be dismissed as insignificant. That had been the unfortunate fate of the first woman in orbit, the Soviet Union's Valentina Tereshkova.

Ride was also chosen for another Challenger flight led by Captain Crippen, October 5 through October 13, 1984. This time, the robot arm was used in some unusual ways. She performed "ice-busting" on the shuttle's exterior and readjusted a radar antenna. With this flight, Ride became the first American woman to make two space flights.

Response to the Challenger tragedy

Ride had been chosen for a third scheduled flight. Sadly, training was cut short in January 1986, when the space shuttle Challenger exploded in midair shortly after take-off. The twelve-foot rubber O-rings that serve as washers between steel segments of the rocket boosters failed under stress. The entire crew of seven was killed.

Ride was chosen for President Ronald Reagan's Rogers Commission, which investigated the explosion. Perhaps the most important recommendation the commission made was to include astronauts at management levels in NASA.

As leader of a task force on the future of the space program, Ride wrote Leadership and America's Future in Space in 1987. In her report she said that NASA should take environmental and international research goals into consideration. Ride said NASA has a duty to inform the public and capture the interest of youngsters. She cited a 1986 work that described the lack of math and science skills among American high school graduates. A mere 6 percent are fluent in these fields, compared to up to 90 percent in other nations.

Ride left NASA in 1987 to join Stanford's Center for International Security and Arms Control. Two years later she became physics professor at the University of California in San Diego (UCSD) and director of the California Space Institute. In the summer of 1999 Ride joined the board of Directors of Space.com, an Internet site devoted to news and information on the cosmos. She left that position a year later, to spend more time in science education.

Top priority: educating children

Ride has followed through on her commitment to science education. In her own high school years, she discovered how important it was to have a mentor (advisor). She felt so strongly about the positive influence Mommaerts had on her that she dedicated her first children's book to her former teacher. Ride coauthored two children's books, To Space and Back, and Voyager.

In 1998 Ride developed EarthKAM, an innovative project for studying natural phenomena (occurrences). This is a unique program for students in middle school through college. Students research a natural phenomenon on Earth and take pictures of it with digital cameras mounted in the crew cabins of NASA space shuttles. The pictures are then downloaded from the Internet into the classroom. Over ten thousand students from all over the United States participate in EarthKAM.

In 2001 Ride formed Imaginary Lines, a company dedicated to encouraging young women interested in the sciences. Through the Sally Ride Science Club, young women in the fourth through eighth grades will be able to network and hook up with mentors. To quote UCSD chancellor Robert Dynes in the Los Angeles Times, August 29, 1999: "Sally's a hero at bringing the excitement of science into the classroom. Many children today never experience a full-blast spirit of discovery. Sally teaches kids to go for it. Flat out. That's the magic."

For More Information

Camp, Carole Ann. Sally Ride: First American Woman in Space. Springfield, NJ: Enslow, 1997.

Hopping, Lorraine Jean. Sally Ride: Space Pioneer. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2000.

Hurwitz, Jane, and Sue Hurwitz. Sally Ride: Shooting for the Stars. New York: Fawcett Columbine, 1989.

O'Conner, Karen. Sally Ride and the New Astronauts: Scientists in Space. New York: F. Watts, 1983.

Ride, Sally, and Susan Okie. To Space and Back. New York: Lothrop, Lee, and Shepard, 1986.

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Ride, Sally

Ride, Sally

American Astronaut and Physicist 1951-

The first American woman in space was Sally Ride, who served as a mission specialist on the space shuttle Challenger in 1983 during mission STS-7. Ride majored in physics at Stanford University in California and earned a bachelor of science degree in 1973, a master of science degree in 1975, and a doctorate in 1978 in that field, as well as a bachelor of arts degree in English in 1973.

Ride was selected as an astronaut candidate in January 1978 and, after completing a one-year training program, became eligible for assignment as a mission specialist on space shuttle flights in August 1979. Her first flight was STS-7, when she not only gained the distinction of becoming the first American female astronaut, but was also responsible for operating the robotic arm during the deployment of several satellites. Ride flew again in 1984, aboard STS 41-G. In June 1985 she was assigned to serve as a mission specialist on STS 61-M, but she terminated her training in January 1986 to serve as a member of the Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident.

Ride left the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in 1989 to join the faculty of the University of California at San Diego as a physics professor and become the director of the California Space Institute.

see also History of Humans in Space (volume 3); Mission Specialists (volume 3); Satellites, Types of (volume 1); Space Shuttle (volume 3); Sullivan, Kathryn (volume 3); Tereshkova, Valentina (volume 3); Women in Space (volume 3).

Nadine G. Barlow

Bibliography

Buchanan, Douglas. Air and Space (Female Firsts in Their Fields). Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishing, 1999.

Hopping, Lorraine Jean. Sally Ride: Space Pioneer. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2000.

Internet Resources

NASA Astronaut Biography. <http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/htmlbios/ride-sk.htm>.

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Ride, Sally Kristen

Sally Kristen Ride 1951–2012, American astrophysicist and astronaut, b. Encino, Calif. With an M.A. in physics (1975) and a Ph.D. in astrophysics from Stanford Univ., she joined NASA in 1978, where she was an astronaut (1979–87) and helped design the robot arm for the space shuttle. In 1983 she became the first American woman in space; she flew on a second mission the following year. She also served (1986, 2003) on the commissions that investigated the Challenger and Columbia disasters. In 1989 she became professor of physics and director of the California Space Institute at the Univ. of Calif., San Diego. Dedicated to arousing interest in the sciences in young people, she wrote six science books for children.

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