Sally Kristen Ride (May 26, 1951 - July 23, 2012) was the first American woman in space. Dr. Ride’s first trip into space was aboard NASA’s space shuttle Challenger (STS-7) in 1983 (June 18-June 24).
Ride was born in Encino, a city in southern California, USA. When she was in her twenties and working towards a Ph.D. in astrophysics at Stanford University, Ride applied to be an astronaut at NASA. She was accepted in 1977, and began NASA’s extensive training, which included parachuting, gravity and weightlessness training, water survival training, radio communications, and navigation.
Before traveling in space, Dr. Ride worked as the capsule communicatory (CAPCOM) officer for the second and third flights of the space shuttle Columbia (in November 1981 and March 1982). Her Earthbound job was to relay radio messages from the shuttle crews to mission control.
On June 18, 1983, Ride became the first American woman to travel in space. She flew aboard the shuttle Challenger (STS-7). Her second (and last) space flight was the eight-day Challenger (STS 41-G) mission (in October, 1984). Both missions were commanded by Captain Robert Crippen.
Ride was training for a third mission when the space shuttle Challenger exploded in 1986. Ride’s mission was cancelled, and Ride was appointed to the Presidential Commission that investigated the cause of the accident.
Ride retired from the space program in 1987. She became a professor of physics at University of California, San Diego. Ride wrote the books: “To Space and Back,” “Voyager: An Adventure to the Edge of The Solar System,” and “The Third Planet: Exploring The Earth From Space.”