Facts About Sally Ride

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Sally Ride was the first American woman in space aboard the space shuttle Challenger in 1983. She died at the age of 61 on July 23, 2012 after battling with pancreatic cancer[i].


Fact 1:

Sally Ride had a partial scholarship for Los Angeles Westlake School for Girls to play tennis. She was a junior in high school where she already ranked 18th in the girl’s junior player in the US. Field even personally received an encouragement from Billie Jean King to go professional at age 22[ii].


Fact 2:

Sally Ride may had been a scientist and a physicist and founded the Sally Ride Science in San Diego in 2001, however, she admitted that her weakest subject in school was a seventh grade home economics class that girls had to take [iii].


Fact 3:

Sally Ride was born May 26, 1951, grew up in Los Angeles. She did a double major in physics and English and received a bachelor’s degree in 1973 at Stanford University. She pursued a masters degree in physics at the same school in 1975 and a Ph.D. in 1978 [iv].


Fact 4:

After retiring from NASA in 1987, Sally Ride became a Science Fellow Center for International Security and Arms Control at Stanford University; she was also the director of the California Space Institute and Professor of Physics at the University of California.

She was also awarded with the Jefferson Award for Public Service, Women’s Research and Education Institute’s American Woman Award, and twice awarded the National Spaceflight Medal and was inducted in the Astronaut Hall of Fame at the Kennedy Space Center on                     June 21, 2003 [v].

Fact 5:

Sally Ride beat the other 1,000 applicants for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) astronaut program. After going through an extensive training program, she was bound for space in 1983 and on June 18 became the first American woman in space aboard the Challenger space shuttle. She was a mission specialist where she aided in the deployment of satellites and returned to earth June 24th [vi].

 Fact 6:

Sally Ride’s two space journeys were aboard the Challenger. During her eight-month training for her supposed to be third flight, the Challenger exploded in space in 1986. She was on a plane and had to show her badge so she can listen to the news on the cockpit about the fallen shuttle. Four of the astronauts that died were from her training class [vii].

Fact 7:

Sally Ride along with other fellow astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Jim Lovell posed for a Louis Vuitton ad[viii]. It was reported that the three astronauts gave a “significant portion” of their modelling income to Al Gore’s climate change campaign[ix].

Fact 8:

The crash site of NASA’s two Grail probes, Ebb and Flow was named after Sally Ride. NASA dubbed it as “Sally K. Ride Impact Site.” The site is a crater’s rim near the moon’s north pole. Grail stands for Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory — launched in September 2011. The purpose of the Grail was to allow scientists to create a gravity map of heavenly bodies in     space [x].

Fact 9:

Sally Ride flew her own plane going to her wedding to fellow astronaut Steven Hawley in 1982 which ended in divorce in 1987[xi]. Steven Hawley has flown on five US space shuttle flights he is now a professor of physics and astronomy and director of engineering physics of the University of Kansas [xii].

Fact 10:

Sally Ride had a female partner, Tam O’Shaughnessy for 30 years without the knowledge of the public. They kept their relationship a secret and Ride being a lesbian was not known only until her death on July 23, 2012[xiii].

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