Sally Kristen Ride was the very first woman ever to go into space. She was born 26th May 1951 in Encino California. Although at first she was a keen tennis player which eventually won her a scholarship to the Westlake School for Girls in Los Angeles. After graduating in 1968 she decided to pursue a career in professional tennis but after months of tough practice she decided she wasn’t good enough and quit, which led her to enroll in Stanford University.
It was here she read about NASA’s call for astronauts. She applied along with 8000 other men and women and was granted a place with 35 others, 6 of them were women. After joining NASA in 1977 she underwent radical and hard training including water survival, weightlessness training, flight, and radio communications. She loved flight training so much that this actually became one of her favourite hobbies. Between 1981 and 1982 Ride served as a communications officer relaying messages from ground control to the shuttle crew.
It wasn’t until 1983 that Ride became the first woman in space when she boarded the shuttle Challenger STS-7; she served as mission specialist and also acted as flight engineer. The mission lasted just 6 days and was responsible for deploying satellites for Canada and Indonesia. Ride then began her second mission in 1984 aboard the STS 41-G. Again she served as mission specialist along with 6 others. This 8 day journey was to become the largest mission crew to date,
Ride began training for her third mission in 1985 and 1986 but it was cancelled due to the Challenger disaster which exploded in mid air. She helped in the investigation of the Challenger incident. She retired from NASA in 1987 and went to work at Stanford University where she stayed for 2 years. She then accepted a directorship at the California Space Institute and also acted as a professor of physics at the University of California.
In 1999 she joined Space.com and became Executive Vice President and a board member. This is a website that is dedicated to the space industry. She served there until 2000 where she set up EARTHKAM which is aimed at school children, and allows you to shoot pictures of the earth.
Ride has also set up Imaginary Lines – an organization that encourages and provides support for women who wish to pursue a career in science, mathematics, or technology.
Sally Kristen Ride should be an inspiration to women everywhere. She has literally broke the boundaries of this world and in 2003 she was inducted into the Astronauts Hall of Fame at the Kennedy Space Centre.