Sally Ride impacted the space program by being the first woman in space. She went into space two times. She was the youngest astronaut to go into space at age 32. After her experiences in space, she co-authored five science books for children. In the 1990s, she led programs through NASA that allow middle school children to study the images of earth and the moon.
Dr. Ride’s first space trip was June 18, 1983, when she became the first woman in space aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger STS-7. The crew deployed two communication satellites and conducted drug experiments. During this flight, she used the robot arm to retrieve a satellite. Her second flight was also on Challenger in 1984. This time, she spent 343 hours in space. During the training for her third flight, the Challenger accident happened. This led to her writing a paper, “Leadership and America’s Future in Space.” She founded NASA’s Office of Exploration afterwards. During this time, she worked at NASA and led its first strategy session.
Dr. Ride opened the way for girls and women to get jobs normally filled by men in the field of science. For her work, she received numerous awards and honors. She was the only person to work on both of the panels that investigated the problems with the Challenger and Columbia.
ISS and EarthKAM and GRAIL MoonKAM are the two programs she led which allow students to see the surface of the moon and Earth. In 2001, Ride co-founded the Sally Ride Science, a company which helps, girls especially, learn science in an entertaining way. The projects allow middle school students to receive digital images of the Earth and Moon. The University of California, San Diego and the Jet Propulsion Laboratories sponsor these projects. The acronyms stand for Earth Knowledge Acquired by Middle School Students and Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory which receives images of the moon.
Sally Ride co-authored five books with Tam O’Shaughnessy: “Voyager: An Adventure to the Edge of the Solar System”; The Mystery of Mars; The Third Planet; Exploring Our Solar System; and Mission: Planet Earth: Our World and Its Climate. Most of the books have hard covers, with the last available for the Kindle. Besides these books, others have contributed their works and the company has published many more science information books.
Sally Ride Science has lots of resources and books to help educators teach science and make it entertaining. They host festivals and science camps. Dr. Ride has contributed not only to the space program but also to educating future astronauts and space explorers through her books and company.