Dr. Sally Ride would have been 63 today. America's first woman in space - and the first woman to really EARN a spaceflight rather than being rushed up as a stunt - was born in California in 1951. She earned three degrees in physics and one in English. She flew into space on STS-7 in 1983. She flew again on STS-41G and was in training for a third mission when we lost the shuttle Challenger - the spaceship that had carried her into history three years before the accident. Dr. Ride served on the Challenger investigation commission and left NASA in 1989 for a professorship, and was active from then until her death from cancer in 2012 in programs to encourage girls to pursue STEM careers. She served on a half-dozen other prestigious boards and institutes, including the Columbia Accident Investigation Board. She wrote five books on space for young readers. Intensely private, she never talked of her personal life, refused endorsements, and turned down most opportunities for appearances. She crammed enough achievements and causes into her 61 years for three people - maybe four.
Sally Ride: an American hero.