Sally K Ride was born May 26, 1951, in Los Angeles, California. She
graduated from Westlake High School, Los Angeles in 1968 and furthered her education by attending Stanford University. It was here she gained Bachelor of Science in Physics and Bachelor of Arts in English degrees, both in 1973, and Master of Science and Doctorate degrees in Physics in 1975 and 1978, respectively.
In January 1978 Dr Ride was selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA. By August 1979 she had completed a 1-year training and evaluation period and was eligible to be assigned as a mission specialist on future Space Shuttle flight crews. On June 18, 1983 she became the first American woman to orbit the Earth when she flew aboard Space Shuttle Challenger. This was the first mission using a 5-person crew and only the second for the Orbiter Challenger. Most of the mission was taken up with deploying satellites and performing scientific experiments and lasted 147 hours.
She was Mission Specialist for a second flight aboard Challenger in 1984 and was destined for more space travel until the tragic loss of Challenger in 1986. She terminated mission training when she was chosen to take part in the Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident. On completion of the investigation she became Special Assistant to the Administrator at NASA, concentrating on
long range and strategic planning.
In 1989 Dr Ride left NASA to work for the University of California at San Diego, where she also heads the California Space Institute. Concerned about the lack of women scientists she started a design competition called ToyChallenge through which she hopes to encourage more girls to take an interest in science and engineering.
'We need to impress upon girls that engineering is creativity, it's curiosity, it's common sense and it's cool stuff... it's not just geeks with pocket protectors.'
Sally Ride has also committed her thoughts to paper. She wrote a book for children, To Space and Back, detailing her experiences on Challenger and has recently published Voyager: An Adventure to the Edge of the Solar System and The Third Planet: Exploring the Earth from Space.