You may not need an introduction to astronaut Dr. Sally Ride, who on June 18, 1983 became the first American woman in space aboard the shuttle Challenger, which was followed by a second flight aboard the Challenger in 1984. She spent a little over 14 days in space between the two missions.
And while these are amazing accomplishments it is what Dr. Ride did upon returning to Earth that we want to share with you today. Ride had been selected for another mission which was terminated when the Challenger disaster occurred and she was appointed to the presidential commission investigating the accident. Ride then became a Special Assistant to the Administrator for long-range and strategic planning at NASA headquarters where she worked until retiring from the agency in 1987.
She followed her time as an astronaut as a Science Fellow at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Arms Control and two years later accepted a position as a Professor of Physics at the University of California, San Diego, and Director of the University’s California Space Institute.
As an advocate for improvement in science education she co-wrote seven science books for children and decided to further use her fame to champion science education for students. In 2001 Ride and a few likeminded individuals founded Sally Ride Science, a company that created a variety of STEM-related educational programs including organizing 100 Sally Ride Science Festivals on U.S. college campuses as well as creating and running a national engineering design competition.
Sally Ride Science also published 90 STEM and STEM career books that included more than 200 hands-on STEM investigations and trained more than 30,000 teachers which allowed them to reach more than 6 million students in order to inspire them to look at STEM fields for their futures.
Ride also created two public-outreach programs for NASA and JPL: the ISS EarthKam and GRAIL MoonKam which allowed middle school students to use instruments in space to take their own images of the Earth and the Moon. It is through her efforts to inspire and nurture young scientists everywhere that Sally’s legacy lives on.
Written by Angela Goad