The first American woman in space, Sally K. Ride was an inspiration to a whole generation of young women interested in exploration. Born on May 26, 1951 in Los Angeles. She received from Stanford University a Bachelor of Science in Physics and a Bachelor of Arts in English in 1973, and Masters and Doctorate degrees in Physics in 1975 and 1978, respectively.
Dr. Ride was selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in January 1978. In August 1979, she completed a oneyear training and evaluation period, making her eligible for assignment as a mission specialist on future Space Shuttle flight crews. She subsequently performed as an onorbit capsule communicator (CAPCOM) on the STS2 and STS3 missions. Her historic first space flight came when she flew aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger as a mission specialist on STS7, which was launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on June 18, 1983. She was accompanied by Captain Robert Crippen (spacecraft commander), Captain Frederick Hauck (pilot), and fellow mission specialists Colonel John Fabian and Dr. Norman Thagard.
This was the second flight for the Orbiter Challenger and the first mission with a fiveperson crew. Sally Ride went on to serve as a mission specialist on STS 41-G, which was launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on October 5, 1984. This was the largest crew to fly to date and included Captain Robert Crippen (spacecraft commander), Captain Jon McBride (pilot), fellow mission specialists Dr. Kathryn Sullivan and Commander David Leestma, as well as two payload specialists, Commander Marc Garneau and Paul Scullypower. Their 197-hour mission conducted scientific observations of the Earth with the OSTS3 pallet and the Large Format Camera. In June 1985 Dr. Ride was assigned to serve as a mission specialist on STS61, but she terminated mission training in January 1986 in order to serve as a member of the Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger accident.
Upon completion of the investigation she was assigned to NASA Headquarters as Special Assistant to the Administrator for long range and strategic planning. Her children's book, To Space and Back, which describes her experiences in space, received the Jefferson Award for Public Service, and was twice awarded the National Spaceflight Medal. She is also the author of Voyager: An Adventure to the Edge of the Solar System and The Third Planet: Exploring the Earth from Space. In 1989, she joined the faculty at the University of California, San Diego, as a physics professor. She is also Director of the California Space Institute, a research institute of the University of California.