- Category : Astronaut
- Type : MGE
- Profile : 5/1 - Heretical / Investigator
- Definition : Triple Split
- Incarnation Cross : LAX Duality 1
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. 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. Ride remains the youngest American astronaut to be launched into space.
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.
Ride attended Portola Junior High (now Portola Middle School) and then Westlake School 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. Ride attended Swarthmore College for three semesters, took physics courses at UCLA, and then entered Stanford University as a junior, graduating with a bachelor's degree in English and physics. At Stanford, she earned a master's degree and a Ph.D. in physics while doing research on the interaction of X-rays with the interstellar medium.
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.
In 1987, Ride left her position in Washington, D.C., 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 Institute. From the mid-1990s until her death, Ride led two public-outreach programs for NASA — the ISS EarthKAM and GRAIL MoonKAM projects, in cooperation with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and UCSD. The programs allowed middle school students to request images of the Earth and moon. In 2003, she was asked to serve on the Space Shuttle Columbia Accident Investigation Board. She was 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.
According to Roger Boisjoly, the engineer who warned of the technical problems that led to the Challenger disaster, Ride was the only public figure to show support for him when he went public with his pre-disaster warnings (after the entire workforce of Morton-Thiokol shunned him). Sally Ride hugged him publicly to show her support for his efforts.
Ride wrote or co-wrote seven books on space aimed at children, with the goal of encouraging children to study science.
Ride endorsed Barack Obama for President in 2008. She was 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.
Ride died on July 23, 2012, at age 61, seventeen months after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Following cremation, her ashes were interred next to her father at Woodlawn Cemetery, Santa Monica, California.
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. O'Shaughnessy now serves as Chair of the Board of Sally Ride Science. She 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 lesbian astronaut.
Awards and honors
Ride received numerous awards, including the National Space Society's von Braun Award, the Lindbergh Eagle, and the NCAA's Theodore Roosevelt Award. She was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame and the Astronaut Hall of Fame and was awarded the NASA Space Flight Medal twice. Ride was the only person to serve on both of the panels investigating shuttle accidents (those for the Challenger accident and the Columbia disaster). 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.
In 1994, Ride received the Samuel S. Beard Award for Greatest Public Service by an Individual 35 Years or Under, an award given out annually by Jefferson Awards.
On December 6, 2006, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and First Lady Maria Shriver inducted Ride into the California Hall of Fame at the California Museum for History, Women, and the Arts.
Ride directed public outreach and educational programs for NASA’s GRAIL mission, which sent twin satellites to map the moon’s gravity. On December 17, 2012, the two GRAIL probes, Ebb and Flow, were directed to complete their mission by crashing on an unnamed lunar mountain near the crater Goldschmidt. NASA announced that it was naming the landing site in honor of Sally Ride.
In 2013, the Space Foundation bestowed its highest honor, the General James E. Hill Lifetime Space Achievement Award, on Sally Ride
On May 20, 2013, a National Tribute to Sally Ride was held at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. On the same day, President Barack Obama announced that Ride would receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States. The medal is to be presented to Ride's family in a ceremony later in the year.