Sally Ride, R. I. P.
Sally Ride, America's first woman astronaut, dies at the age of 61.
Sally Ride, the first American woman astronaut to go into space, died yesterday, July 23, 2012, after a long struggle with pancreatic cancer. She was born May 26, 1951 in Encino, California. She attended the prestigious Westlake School for Girls in Los Angeles and earned a bachelor's degree in English and Physics from Stanford University. She also earned a master's degree and a Ph.D. in physics from Stanford, where she performed research in astrophysics and electron laser physics. An excellent athlete, in her teens she was a nationally ranked tennis player.
Sally Ride answered a newspaper advertisement which sought applicants for the space program in 1977, and out of 8000 aspiring astronauts who applied, was one of only thirty-five chosen. She quickly rose in the ranks and became Capsule Communicator (CapCom) for the second and third space shuttle flights. On June 18, 1983, at the age of thirty-two, she became the first American woman to fly in space as a member of the crew of Space Shuttle Challenger. Her crew deployed two communications satellites and conducted pharmaceutical experiments. During the mission, she became the first woman to use a robot arm in space and the first to use the arm to retrieve a satellite. She made a second flight aboard the Challenger in 1984, and logged a total of over 343 hours in space.
Ride left NASA in 1987 and went to work at Stanford University's Center for International Security and Arms Control. In 1989 she became a professor of Physics at the University of California, San Diego, and in 2001 she formed Sally Ride Science, a company that creates entertaining science programs and books aimed at upper elementary and middle school students, with a particular focus on attracting girls.
Sally Ride was a true pioneer in space and an inspiration to legions of young girls the world over.
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