With her memorable voyage into space aboard the space shuttle Challenger, Dr. Sally Ride inspired the nation as a trailblazing astronaut, brilliant physicist, and dedicated educator.
The 2018 Sally Ride Forever® stamp celebrates her contributions to space travel and STEM education.
In July 1978, after completing her Ph.D. in physics, Ride moved to Houston to join a class of astronaut candidates. Her love of competition and her strong intellect served her well. After almost three years of honing her technical skills at NASA, Ride was the first woman to be named capsule communicator for a space shuttle, and she assumed this role for Columbia’s second flight on November 21, 1981.
Ride’s big break came in 1982, when she became the first woman assigned to a crew for flight STS-7 aboard the Challenger shuttle. Her appointment as a mission specialist garnered national attention, and she trained closely with her four crewmates for more than a year.
On June 18, 1983, Ride went on her greatest adventure when she launched through Earth’s atmosphere aboard the space shuttle Challenger, becoming America’s first woman in space. Challenger orbited the planet for six days, and during the flight, she manned a robotic arm to deploy several satellites. She was adept at maneuvering in the zero-gravity environment, proving to the world that women were just as capable as men on a space mission.
Ride continued to conduct research and teach others until her death on July 23, 2012. Her voyage into space was just one aspect of her multifaceted life: Ride was also a physicist, writer, and energetic advocate for science education.
“Sally and I saw that children were losing interest in math and science, girls in much larger numbers than boys,” says Tam O’Shaughnessy, Ride’s partner. “We realized there was an issue with how our society presents scientists; they’re always white men with crazy hair, and they don’t get along with anybody. So we decided to do something about it.”
Ride and O’Shaughnessy, joined by three friends, founded Sally Ride Science, an organization dedicated to diversity in STEM fields.
The nonprofit has today reached more than 8 million children through its educational publications and has trained and motivated more than 30,000 teachers to inspire students with the stories of men and women in science.
Did you know?
Along with her partner, Tam O’Shaughnessy, Sally Ride wrote six books on science for young people, including The Third Planet.
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