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Sally Ride

Astronaut

Born: 26 May 1951
Died: 23 July 2012 (pancreatic cancer)
Birthplace: Encino, California
Best known as:

The first American woman in space

Sally Kirsten Ride was the first American woman to fly in space, going aloft in the space shuttle Challenger in 1983 and again in 1984. (The very first woman in space was the cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, who flew aboard Vostok 6 in 1963.) Sally Ride earned a Ph.D. in physics from Stanford University in 1978 and was accepted into NASA's astronaut training program that same year. She was chosen to be America's first female astronaut in space, going up for a six-day tour on the shuttle Challenger for mission STS-7 on June 18-24, 1983. She flew a second mission, STS-41G, on October 5-13, 1984, again aboard the Challenger. She was scheduled to fly a third mission in 1986, but when the Challenger exploded during a launch in January of 1986, Ride's last flight was scrubbed. Instead, she served on the presidential commission investigating the accident. She retired from the astronaut corps in 1987, later becoming a physics professor at the University of California at San Diego (UCSD) and an executive at the site Space.com. In 2001 she founded Imaginary Lines, later renamed Sally Ride Science, an organization aimed at encouraging students in the study of science, math, and technology. She was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 1988 and the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 2007.

Extra credit:

Sally Ride attended Stanford University, earning bachelor's degrees in Physics and English (1973), a master's degree in Physics (1975) and then a doctorate in Physics in 1987. She also attended Swarthmore College as an undergrad before transferring to Stanford... Sally Ride married NASA astronaut Steven Hawley in 1982. They were divorced in 1987 and had no children... R&B singer Wilson Pickett's hit tune "Mustang Sally" includes the chorus, "All you want to do is ride around Sally / ride Sally ride." The connection is coincidental; Pickett recorded the tune in the 1966, after Ride was born but long before she became famous.

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More on Sally Ride from Infoplease:

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