Day 18 and we shoot into space to celebrate Dr Sally Ride (1951 – 2012).
Sally Ride graduated from Stanford University in California where she studied physics. In 1977 she applied for NASA’s astronaut programme, which had that year started to admit women. Ride was one of six picked for the first female intake. In 1983 she flew a six-day mission aboard the space shuttle Challenger, becoming the first American woman in space. The following day, Gloria Steinem, then-editor of Ms. magazine, said, “Millions of little girls are going to sit by their television sets and see they can be astronauts, heroes, explorers and scientists.”
Dr Ride flew again aboard Challenger in 1984, and left NASA in 1987 to take up a teaching position. She worked tirelessly to promote science to young people and in particular to encourage girls to get involved in science and engineering.
She was reticent about discussing her private life. She married astronaut and scientist Steven Hawley, divorcing after five years. Her same-sex partner of twenty-seven years was Tam O’Shaughnessy, with whom she founded educational company Sally Ride Science in 2001. O’Shaughnessy continued to run the company following Dr Ride’s death from illness in 2012.
You can read a review of the book Sally Ride: America’s first Woman in Space here: http://io9.gizmodo.com/the-secret-life-of-sally-ride-the-first-american-woman-1586255004
And her obituary here: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/24/science/space/sally-ride-trailblazing-astronaut-dies-at-61.html?_r=0