The New Civil Rights Movement, By David Badash, July 23
Dr. Sally Ride, the first American woman in space as well as the youngest American in space, founder of Sally Ride Science, a nationally ranked tennis player in college, and a lesbian, died today after a seventeen-month battle with pancreatic cancer. Dr. Ride was 61. She is survived by her partner of 27 years, Dr. Tam O’Shaughnessy, who is also the COO and Executive Vice President of Sally Ride Science and a Professor Emerita of School Psychology at San Diego State University, along with her mother, Joyce and sister, Bear.
Sally Kristen Ride, Ph.D., earned her master’s degree and a Ph.D. in physics, went to NASA in 1978 after responding to a newspaper ad, left in 1987 for Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Arms Control.
She was especially interested in inspiring girls to embrace science, and she was a climate change activist. Dr. Ride endorsed Barack Obama in 2008.
NASA Offers Condolences on the Passing of Pioneering Astronaut Sally Ride
In a space agency filled with trailblazers, Sally K. Ride was a pioneer of a different sort. The soft-spoken California physicist broke the gender barrier 29 years ago when she rode to orbit aboard space shuttle Challenger to become America’s first woman in space.
“Sally Ride broke barriers with grace and professionalism ”“ and literally changed the face of America’s space program,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “The nation has lost one of its finest leaders, teachers and explorers. Our thoughts and prayers are with Sally’s family and the many she inspired. She will be missed, but her star will always shine brightly.”
”œSally was a personal and professional role model to me and thousands of women around the world,” said NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver. ”œHer spirit and determination will continue to be an inspiration for women everywhere.”
Ride’s contribution to America’s space program continued right up until her death at age 61 this week. After two trips to orbit aboard the shuttle, she went on an award-winning academic career at the University of California, San Diego, where her expertise and wisdom were widely sought on matters related to space. She holds the distinction of being the only person to serve as a member of both investigation boards following NASA’s two space shuttle accidents. She also served as a member of the Review of U.S. Human Spaceflight Plans Committee, also known as the Augustine Committee, in 2009, which informed many of the decisions about NASA’s current human spaceflight programs.
However, Ride’s place in history was assured on June 18, 1983 when she rocketed into space on Challenger’s STS-7 mission with four male crewmates.
”œThe fact that I was going to be the first American woman to go into space carried huge expectations along with it,” Ride recalled in an interview for the 25th anniversary of her flight in 2008. ”œThat was made pretty clear the day that I was told I was selected as a crew. I was taken up to Chris Kraft’s office. He wanted to have a chat with me and make sure I knew what I was getting into before I went on the crew. I was so dazzled to be on the crew and go into space I remembered very little of what he said.”
Sally Ride, Trailblazing Astronaut, Dies at 61
New York Times, By Denise Grady, July 23
Sally Ride, the first American woman to fly in space, died on Monday at her home in San Diego. She was 61.
The cause was pancreatic cancer, her company, Sally Ride Science, announced on its Web site. Dr. Ride, a physicist, flew on the shuttle Challenger on June 18, 1983, and on a second mission in 1984. She was also, at 32, the youngest American in space. Dr. Ride later became the only person to sit on both panels investigating the catastrophic shuttle accidents that killed all astronauts on board ”” the Challenger explosion in 1986 and the Columbia crash in 2003.
Dr. Ride was finishing studies at Stanford ”” degrees in physics and astrophysics (and also English) ”” and looking for a job when she saw a newspaper advertisement that said NASA was accepting astronaut applications. She looked at the qualifications and said, ”œI’m one of those people,” she told The New York Times in 1982.
She applied, and made the cut.
”œThe women’s movement had already paved the way, I think, for my coming,” she said.
By the time she began studying laser physics at Stanford, women had already broken through into the physics department, once a boys’ club. And when she applied to the space program, NASA had already made a commitment to admit women.
Dr. Ride married a fellow astronaut, Steven Hawley, in 1982. They decorated their master bedroom with a large photograph of astronauts on the moon. They divorced in 1987. Dr. Ride is survived by her partner of 27 years, Tam O’Shaughnessy; her mother, Joyce; and her sister, Ms. Scott, who is known as Bear. (Ms. O’Shaughnessy is chief operating officer of Ms. Ride’s company.)
Dr. Ride told interviewers that what drove her was not the desire to become famous or to make history as the first woman in space. All she wanted to do was fly, she said, to soar into space, float around weightless inside the shuttle, look out at the heavens and back at Earth. In photographs of her afloat in the spaceship, she was grinning, as if she had at long last reached the place she was meant to be.