Sally Ride Day was created in honor of Ride’s birthday, May 26, 1951. The day honors Ride as the first American woman to travel in space. She accomplished this feat as a mission specialist aboard STS-7, the second flight of the Space Shuttle “Challenger” on June 18, 1983.
How Did Sally Ride become an astronaut?
NASA began looking for women astronauts in 1977. Sally Ride was a student at the time. She answered an advertisement in Stanford University’s student newspaper inviting women to apply to the astronaut program. She was one of 8,000 women who answered the ad… and one of only six women chosen.
A “stellar” career at NASA
Ride’s second space flight took place in 1984, also on board the Challenger. She spent a total of more than 343 hours in space.
Ride also 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 “Canadarm” robot arm.
Life after space travel
In 1987, Ride began work at the Stanford University Center for International Security and Arms Control. And, in 1989, she became a professor of physics at the University of California, San Diego, and director of the California Space Institute.
She also led two public-outreach programs for NASA—the ISS EarthKAM and GRAIL MoonKAM projects, in cooperation with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and UCSD. These programs allowed middle school students to request images of the Earth and moon.
Teaching kids to reach for the stars
Ride was also the president and CEO of Sally Ride Science, a company she co-founded in 2001 that creates entertaining science programs and publications for upper elementary and middle school students, with a particular focus on girls.
She even wrote (or co-wrote) seven books on space aimed at children, with the goal of encouraging children to study science.
Sally Ride passed away on July 23, 2012, at the age of 61.
For more information about Sally Ride’s exceptional career and a complete bio, please visit The Johnson Space Center.
Getting kids excited about space travel in Delaware
Delaware AeroSpace Education Foundation offers space camp, which is currently held at the University of Delaware during the summer. This is DASEF’s best-known program, although it also hosts numerous day programs, serving between 16,000 and 17,000 students annually at the Outpost as well as numerous outreach programs around the state,
For more information, please visit DASEF.
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