Astronaut and astrophysicist Sally Kristen Ride (1951-2012) was born on 26th of May 1951 in California. She became the first US-American woman to fly in space in 1983 (aboard the space shuttle Challenger) and flew on the space shuttle again in 1984. She was scheduled for a third trip which was cancelled after the Challenger accident in 1986 (via and via).
"For whatever reason, I didn't succumb to the stereotype that science wasn't for girls. I got encouragement from my parents. I never ran into a teacher or a counselor who told me that science was for boys. A lot of my friends did." Sally Ride
"For a long time, society put obstacles in the way of women who wanted to enter the sciences." Sally Ride
"Yes, I did feel a special responsibility to be the first American woman in space." Sally Ride
"There are aspects of being the first woman in space that I'm not going to enjoy." Sally Ride
"I think it's important for little girls growing up, and young women, to have one in every walk of life. So from that point of view, I'm proud to be a role model!" Sally Ride
"The fact that I was going to be the first American woman to go into space carried huge expectations along with it." Sally RideAfter leaving NASA, Ride became the director of the California Space Institute at the University of California and a professor of physics. In 2001, she started her own company with the focus on educational programmes and products ("Sally Ride Science"). Her main motivation was to help students in general and inspire girls and young women in particular, girls who wanted to study science and mathematics, wrote science books for students and teachers and came up with the idea of for NASA's EarthKAM project - EarthKAM lets middle school students take pictures of Earth using a camera on the International Space Station.
Sally Ride received many honours and was inducted into the National Women's hall of Fame and the Astronaut Hall of Fame. She passed away at the age of 61 but will always be remembered as "a pioneering astronaut who went where no other American woman had gone before" (via and via).
"The astronauts who came in with me in my astronaut class - my class had 29 men and 6 women - those men were all very used to working with women."
"The women's movement had already paved the way, I think, for my coming."
"I wish that there had been another woman on my flight. I think it would have been a lot easier."
Sally Ride talking to Gloria Steinem: LISTEN/WATCH
photographs via and via and via