Sally Ride

Sally Ride bigraphy, stories - American Physicist and Astronaut

Sally Ride : biography

26 May 1951 – 23 July 2012

Sally Kristen Ride (May 26, 1951 – July 23, 2012) was an American physicist and astronaut. Ride joined NASA in 1978, and, at the age of 32, became the first American woman in space. She left NASA in 1987 to work at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Arms Control. She served on the committees investigating the nation’s two space shuttle disasters (Challenger and Columbia), becoming the only person to serve on both panels.See Rogers Commission Report and Columbia Accident Investigation Board She founded a company, Sally Ride Science, in 2001. She co-authored six children’s science books with her life partner of 27 years, Tam O’Shaughnessy. Mission: Planet Earth is two books, making the total five. Amazon book search yields 37 titles. After filtering out non-authorship and multiple editions, about 17 are left. Ride remains the youngest American astronaut to be launched into space.

NASA career

Ride was one of 8,000 people who answered an advertisement in the Stanford student newspaper seeking applicants for the space program. She was chosen to join NASA in 1978. During her career, Ride served as the ground-based capsule communicator (CapCom) for the second and third space shuttle flights (STS-2 and STS-3) and helped develop the space shuttle’s robot arm.

Prior to her first space flight, she was subject to media attention due to her gender. During a press conference, she was asked questions like, "Will the flight affect your reproductive organs?" and "Do you weep when things go wrong on the job?" Despite this and the historical significance of the mission, Ride insisted that she saw herself in only one way—as an astronaut. 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 Soviet women, Valentina Tereshkova in 1963 and Svetlana Savitskaya in 1982. The five-person crew of the STS-7 mission 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 spent a total of more than 343 hours in space. Ride, who had completed eight months of training for her third flight (STS-61-M, a TDRS deployment mission) when the space shuttle Challenger disaster occurred, was named to the Rogers Commission (the presidential commission investigating the accident) and headed its subcommittee on operations. Following the investigation, Ride was assigned to NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C., where she led NASA’s first strategic planning effort, authored a report entitled "NASA Leadership and America’s Future in Space" and founded NASA’s Office of Exploration.

Personal life

Ride was extremely private about her personal life. She married fellow NASA astronaut Steve Hawley in 1982; they divorced in 1987.

After death, her obituary revealed that Ride’s partner of 27 years was Tam O’Shaughnessy, a professor emerita of school psychology at San Diego State University and childhood friend, who met Ride when both were aspiring tennis players. O’Shaughnessy became a science teacher and writer and, later, the co-founder, chief operating officer, and executive vice president of Ride’s company, Sally Ride Science.[ Tam O’Shaughnessy biography on the Sally Ride Science website]. Retrieved July 23, 2012. O’Shaughnessy now serves as Chair of the Board of Sally Ride Science. co-authored six books with Ride. Their relationship was revealed by the company and confirmed by Ride’s sister, who said that Ride chose to keep her personal life private, including her sickness and treatments. Ride is the first known LGBT astronaut.

Early years

The elder child of Dale Burdell Ride and Carol Joyce (née Anderson), Ride was born in Los Angeles, California. She had one sibling, Karen "Bear" Ride, who is a Presbyterian minister. Both parents were elders in the Presbyterian Church. Ride’s mother had worked as a volunteer counselor at a women’s correctional facility. Her father had been a political science professor at Santa Monica College.