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Sally Kristen Ride (born May 26, 1951) from Los Angeles, Californiamarker, is an Americanmarker physicist and a former NASAmarker astronaut . She studied at Portola Middle School, Westlake School for Girlsmarker, Swarthmore Collegemarker and Stanford Universitymarker, and earned a master's degree and PhD. Ride joined NASA in 1978, and in 1983, became the first American woman, and then-youngest American, to enter space. In 1987 she left NASA to work at Stanford Universitymarker Center for International Security and Arms Control.

Early life

Ride was born in Encinomarker, part of Los Angeles, Californiamarker, the eldest child of Carol Joyce (née Anderson) and Dale Burdell Ride. Of Norwegian ancestry, Ride has a sister named Karen "Bearful" Ride, who is a Presbyterian minister. Ride attended Portola Middle School and Westlake School for Girlsmarker in Los Angeles (now Harvard-Westlake Schoolmarker) on a scholarship. In addition to being interested in science she was a nationally ranked tennis player. She attended Swarthmore Collegemarker and then transferred to Stanford Universitymarker, receiving a bachelor's degree in English and physics. She earned a master's degree and a Ph.D. in physics also at Stanford, while doing research in astrophysics and free electron laser physics.

NASA career

Ride was one of 8,000 people to answer an advertisement in a newspaper seeking applicants for the space program. As a result, Ride joined NASAmarker in 1978. During her career, Sally served as the ground-based Capsule Communicator for the second and third Space Shuttle flights (STS-2 and STS-3) and helped develop the Space Shuttle's robot arm. On June 18, 1983, she became the first American woman in space as a crew member on Space Shuttle Challenger for STS-7. (She was preceded by two Sovietmarker women, Valentina Tereshkova in 1963 and Svetlana Savitskaya in 1982.) On STS-7, during which the five-person crew deployed two communications satellites and conducted pharmaceutical experiments, Ride was the first woman to use the robot arm in space and the first to use the arm to retrieve a satellite. Her second space flight was in 1984, also on board the Challenger. She has cumulatively spent more than 343 hours in space. Ride had completed eight months of training for her third flight when the Space Shuttle Challenger accident occurred. She was named to the Presidential Commission investigating the accident, and headed its subcommittee on Operations. After the investigation, Ride was assigned to NASA headquarters in Washington, DC. There she led NASA's first strategic planning effort, authoring a report entitled "Leadership and America's Future in Space", and founded NASA's Office of Exploration. Ride married fellow NASA astronaut Steve Hawley in 1982, but the two divorced in 1987.

After NASA

In 1987, Ride left to work at the Stanford Universitymarker Center for International Security and Arms Control. In 1989, she became a professor of physics at the University of California, San Diegomarker and Director of the California Space Institute. In 2003, she was asked to serve on the Space Shuttle Columbia Accident Investigation Board. She is currently on leave from the university, and is the President and CEO of Sally Ride Science, a company she founded in 2001, that creates entertaining science programs and publications for upper elementary and middle school students, with a particular focus on girls.

Ride has written or co-written five books on space, aimed at children with the goal of encouraging children to study science.

Ride is currently a member of the Review of United States Human Space Flight Plans Committee an independent review requested by the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) on May 7, 2009.

Awards and honors

Ride has received numerous honors and awards, including the Jefferson Award for Public Service, the von Braun Award, the Lindbergh Eagle, and the NCAA's Theodore Roosevelt Award. She has been inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame, and the Astronaut Hall of Famemarker, and has twice been awarded the National Spaceflight Medal (or National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Space Flight Medal). Ride is the only person to serve on both of the panels investigating Shuttle accidents (those for the Challenger accident and the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster). Two elementary schools in the United States are named after her: Sally K. Ride Elementary School in The Woodlands, Texasmarker, and Sally K. Ride Elementary School in Germantown, Marylandmarker.

On December 6, 2006, Californiamarker Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and First Lady Maria Shriver inducted Ride into the California Hall of Fame, located at The California Museum for History, Women, and the Arts.

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