Sally Kristen Ride (born May
26, 1951) from Los Angeles, California, is an American physicist and a former NASA astronaut . She studied at Portola Middle School,
for Girls, Swarthmore College and Stanford University, and earned a master's
degree and PhD.
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
University Center for
International Security and Arms Control.
born in Encino, part of Los Angeles, California, the eldest child of Carol Joyce (née Anderson) and Dale Burdell
Ride has a sister named Karen "Bearful" Ride, who is a Presbyterian
minister. Ride attended Portola Middle School and
for Girls in Los Angeles (now Harvard-Westlake
School) on a scholarship.
In addition to being
interested in science she was a nationally ranked tennis player.
College and then transferred to Stanford
University, 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
Ride was one of 8,000 people to answer an advertisement in a
newspaper seeking applicants for the space
. As a result, Ride joined NASA in
During her career, Sally served as the ground-based
for the second and third Space Shuttle flights
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
. (She was preceded by two Soviet 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
occurred. She was named to the Presidential Commission investigating the
, 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.
Ride left to work at the Stanford University Center for
International Security and Arms Control. In 1989, she became a
professor of physics at the University
of California, San Diego and Director of the California Space
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
Ride is currently a member of the Review
of United States Human Space Flight Plans Committee
independent review requested by the Office of Science and
(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 Fame, 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
the Space Shuttle
). Two elementary schools in the United States
are named after her: Sally K. Ride Elementary School in The
Woodlands, Texas, and Sally K. Ride Elementary
School in Germantown, Maryland.
December 6, 2006, California 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