Ride, who was a physicist, became a household name and a symbol for young girls nationwide when, at age 32, she rode the space shuttle Challenger into space as a mission specialist on June 18, 1983, soaring into history.
“The thing that I’ll remember most about the flight is that it was fun,” Ride said on her company’s website. “In fact, I’m sure it was the most fun I’ll ever have in my life.”
She’d become an astronaut after seeing an ad placed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in 1977 in the Stanford University student newspaper looking for astronauts. She was a Ph.D. candidate at Stanford at the time in physics, with degrees already in hand from Stanford in physics and English.
Until then, all American astronauts were male, largely taken from the ranks of military test pilots. But NASA decided to seek out scientists and engineers to join the astronaut corps, and Ride sent in her application — as did about 8,000 other people.
Thirty-five new astronauts were chosen from that group, including Ride and five other women.
After leaving NASA in 1987, Ride worked as a science professor. She founded Sally Ride Science in 2001 to encourage girls and boys to pursue science educations and careers. Ride was 61. Link -via Metafilter