Revised: July 10, 2016

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“Our future lies with today’s kids and tomorrow’s space exploration.”
Sally Kristen Ride
First American Woman in Space, 1951 - 2012

Sally Kristen Ride was born on May 26, 1951 in Encino, California (near Los Angeles). Sally started playing tennis at age 10, and became an excellent tennis player. She won a tennis scholarship to Westlake School for Girls in Los Angeles. After graduation in 1968 she attended Swarthmore College, but dropped out to pursue a career in professional tennis. After three months of hard practice, Sally decided she was not good enough to become a successful pro. She quit tennis and enrolled at Stanford University.

At 27, with B.A., B.S., and masters' degrees, she was a Ph.D. candidate looking for postdoctoral work in astrophysics when she read about NASA's call for astronauts in the Stanford University paper. More than 8,000 men and women applied to the space program that year. 35 were accepted, six of whom were women. One was Sally Ride.

After joining NASA in 1977 Ride underwent extensive training that included parachute jumping, water survival, gravity and weightlessness training, radio communications and navigation. She enjoyed flight training so much that flying became a favorite hobby. During the second and third flights of the space shuttle Columbia (November 1981 and March 1982), Ride served as communications officer, relaying radio messages from mission control to the shuttle crews. Dr. Ride was also assigned to the team that designed the remote mechanical arm, used by shuttle crews to deploy and retrieve satellites.

In 1983, Dr. Sally Ride became the first American woman in space on the shuttle Challenger (STS-7). Her next flight was an eight-day mission in 1984, again on Challenger (STS 41-G). Her cumulative hours of space flight are more than 343.

Ride was preparing for her third mission when Challenger exploded in 1986. When training was suspended, she was appointed to the Presidential Commission charged with investigating the accident. She moved to NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C., where she became assistant to the NASA administrator for long-range planning. Ride created NASA's "Office of Exploration" and produced a report on the future of the space program, "Leadership and America's Future in Space."

Dr. Ride retired from NASA in 1987 to become a Science Fellow at the Center for International Security and Arms Control at Stanford University. After two years, she was named Director of the California Space Institute and Professor of Physics at the University of California, San Diego where she pursued one of her heartfelt crusades, encouraging young women to study science and math.

In June, 1999 Ride joined, a website about the space industry, as Executive Vice President and member of its Board of Directors. In September, 1999 she was named President of the company, a position she held until September, 2000.

After leaving, Dr. Ride initiated and headed EarthKAM, an Internet-based NASA project that allows middle-school classes to shoot and download photos of the Earth from space. In 2011, NASA's Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission was launched to measure the moon's gravity. Onboard are MoonKAMs that give classrooms access to pictures of the lunar surface taken from cameras on the spacecraft.

Sally Ride Science was founded to provide support for all the girls who are, or might become, interested in science, math and technology. One instrument of this mission is the Sally Ride Club, created for upper elementary and middle school girls across the country.

Dr. Ride received numerous awards, including the Jefferson Award for Public Service, the Women's Research and Education Institute's American Woman Award, and twice awarded the National Spaceflight Medal. Dr. Ride was inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame at Kennedy Space Center on June 21, 2003.

An advocate for improved science education, Ride has written and/or collaborated on five children's books, To Space and Back, Voyager: An Adventure to the Edge of the Solar System, The Third Planet : Exploring the Earth from Space, The Mystery of Mars, and Exploring Our Solar System.

Sally Ride died July 23, 2012 after a 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer.

If you are aware of books, movies, databases, web sites or other information sources about Sally Ride or related subjects, or if you would like to comment, please contact us.

Resource Menu
Books By/About Sally Ride

Exploring Our Solar System Exploring Our Solar System
by Sally Ride, Tam O'Shaughnessy

A tour of the nine planets and their moons. Explains the origins, current conditions, and possibility of life on each planet.

Purchase this hardcover edition of Exploring Our Solar System

The Mystery of Mars The Mystery of Mars
by Sally Ride, Tam O'Shaughnessy

An excellent introduction to the red planet, including factual comparisons between the Earth and Mars, information on the exploration of Mars, and historical background on those who believe the planet has supported life. The book's visuals include stunning photographs taken from space.

Purchase this paperback edition of The Mystery of Mars

To Space and Back To Space and Back
by Sally Ride, Susan Okie

Astronaut Sally Ride shares her personal experiences living and working in Earth orbit. 53 full-color photographs.

Purchase this paperback edition of To Space and Back

The Third Planet: Exploring the Earth from Space The Third Planet: Exploring the Earth from Space
by Sally Ride, Tam O'Shaughnessy

This book explores the relationships among the atmosphere, oceans, landmasses, and living things that occupy the planetary environment. Shows what the study of Earth from space reveals about our planet.

Purchase this hardcover edition of The Third Planet : Exploring the Earth from Space

Voyager: An Adventure to the Edge of the Solar System Voyager: An Adventure to the Edge of the Solar System
by Sally Ride, Tam O'Shaughnessy

About the epic journeys of the Voyager spacecraft. Gorgeous color photos..

Purchase this hardcover edition of Voyager: An Adventure to the Edge of the Solar System

Sally Ride: First American Woman in Space Sally Ride: First American Woman in Space
by Carol Ann Camp

A biography of the California astrophysicist who became, the first American woman and the youngest American astronaut to orbit earth.

Purchase this hardcover edition of Sally Ride: First American Woman in Space

Sally Ride: A Space Biography Sally Ride: A Space Biography
by Barbara Kramer

A biography of Sally Ride. Reading level ages 9-12.

Purchase this hardcover edition of Sally Ride: A Space Biography

DVDs About Dr. Sally Ride

The Sally Ride Story The Sally Ride Story: A Woman Space Pioneer
Produced by Global Science Productions

Starring: Chris Kraft; Joyce Ride; Sally Ride. Directed by Dr. Elliott Haimoff

This one hour documentary profiles the life and experiences of Dr. Sally Ride, the first American woman to fly in space aboard the Space Shuttle STS-7 in June 1983. We take a look at Dr. Ride's training for over six years before her first flight. We explore her thoughts and feelings during the two missions she flew before retiring form NASA and her views on the future of women in the space program.

Purchase this DVD edition of The Sally Ride Story

Sally Ride Online Videos

First U.S. Woman in Space: Footage from STS-7

Sally Ride on Solving the Science Crisis

Sally Ride Science Festival

Sally Ride explores the sky in Google Earth 4.2

NASA 50th Anniversary Moment: Sally Ride Podcast

Related Websites

NASA and the White House Pay Tribute to Sally Ride
President Obama announced Monday, July 10, 2016 that Ride will be posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Sally Ride Science
Founded by Sally Ride to provide support for all girls who are, or might become, interested in science, math and technology.

Sally Ride Science Festivals

A 2006 Interview with Sally Ride

NASA Female Frontiers Sally Ride page

Sally Ride
At the National Women's Hall of Fame

NASA STS-7 Mission Profile

NASA STS 41-G Mission Profile

NASA, the Internet, and Education Working Together

NASA Kids Website
A really cool resource about space from NASA

Click Here if you want to become an Astronaut

Napoleon Bonaparte

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