Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Sally Ride Biography

Sally Kristen Ride (born on May 26, 1951 and passed away on July 23, 2012) was an American physicist and a former NASA astronaut. To be more exact, Ride joined NASA in 1978, and in 1983 became the first American woman, and the first lesbian, to enter space. On her first mission at age 32 she was the youngest American to enter space. In 1987 she left NASA to work at Stanford University's Center for International Security and Arms Control.


Sally Ride was the elder child of Carol Joyce and Dale Burdell Ride. Sally was born in Encino, part of Los Angeles, California. Of Norwegian ancestry, she had one sibling, Karen "Bear" Ride, who is a Presbyterian minister. Ride attended Portola Middle School and Westlake School for Girls in Los Angeles (now Harvard-Westlake School) on a scholarship. In addition to being interested in science, she was a nationally ranked tennis player. Ride attended Swarthmore College for three semesters, took physics courses at UCLA, and then entered Stanford University as a junior, graduating with a bachelor's degree in English and physics. Also at Stanford, she earned a master's degree and a Ph.D. in physics, while doing research in astrophysics and free electron laser physics.



It has to be noted that Sally Ride was one of 8,000 people to answer an advertisement in a newspaper seeking applicants for the space program. As a result, she joined NASA in 1978. Prior to her first space flight, Ride was subject to media attention even being asked during a press conference "Do you weep when things go wrong on the job?"

During her career, Ride served as the ground-based Capsule Communicator (CapCom) for the second and third Space Shuttle flights (STS-2 and STS-3) and helped develop the Space Shuttle's robot arm. On June 18, 1983, she became the first American woman in space as a crew member on Space Shuttle Challenger for STS-7. (She was preceded by two Soviet women, Valentina Tereshkova in 1963 and Svetlana Savitskaya in 1982.) On STS-7, during which the five-person crew deployed two communications satellites and conducted pharmaceutical experiments, Ride was the first woman to use the robot arm in space and the first to use the arm to retrieve a satellite.

Her second space flight was in 1984, also on board the Challenger. She spent a total of more than 343 hours in space.





Ride, who had completed eight months of training for her third flight when the Space Shuttle Challenger accident occurred, was named to the presidential commission investigating the accident and headed its subcommittee on operations. Following the investigation, Ride was assigned to NASA headquarters in Washington, DC, where she led NASA's first strategic planning effort, authored a report entitled "Leadership and America's Future in Space", and founded NASA's Office of Exploration.


In 1987, Ride left her position in Washington, DC, to work at the Stanford University Center for International Security and Arms Control. In 1989, she became a professor of physics at the University of California, San Diego and Director of the California Space Institute. In 2003, she was asked to serve on the Space Shuttle Columbia Accident Investigation Board. She was the president and CEO of Sally Ride Science, a company she founded in 2001 that creates entertaining science programs and publications for upper elementary and middle school students, with a particular focus on girls.

According to Roger Boisjoly, the engineer who warned of the technical problems that led to the Space Shuttle Challenger accident, Sally Ride was the only public figure to show support for him when he went public with his pre-disaster warnings (after the entire workforce of Morton-Thiokol shunned him). Sally Ride hugged him publicly to show her support for his efforts.

Ride wrote or co-wrote five books on space aimed at children, with the goal of encouraging children to study science.





Ride endorsed Barack Obama for president in 2008.


Ride was a member of the Review of United States Human Space Flight Plans Committee, an independent review requested by the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) on May 7, 2009.


Ride got married with fellow NASA astronaut Steve Hawley in 1982 and they divorced in 1987.










From 1985 until her death, Ride's female partner was Dr. Tam E. O'Shaughnessy, a childhood friend who met Ride when both youngsters were aspiring tennis players. O'Shaughnessy became a science teacher and writer and, later, the chief operating officer and executive vice president of Ride's company, Sally Ride Science. She also co-authored several books with Ride. The report that Ride was in a lesbian relationship with O'Shaugnessy was made by both Ride's sister and by a spokesperson for Sally Ride Science after her death. The sister stated that Ride preferred to keep this information private during her life.


Ride passed away on July 23, 2012, after a 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer. Ride was described as "very private". Her same-sex relationship with her partner of 27 years, Tam O'Shaughnessy, was revealed in Ride's obituary released by Sally Ride Science and confirmed by Ride's sister, as well as a Sally Ride Science spokesperson.




Ride received numerous awards, including the National Space Society's von Braun Award, the Lindbergh Eagle, and the NCAA's Theodore Roosevelt Award. She was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame and the Astronaut Hall of Fame and was awarded the NASA Space Flight Medal twice. Ride was the only person to serve on both of the panels investigating Shuttle accidents (those for the Challenger accident and the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster). Two elementary schools in the United States are named after her: Sally K. Ride Elementary School in The Woodlands, Texas, and Sally K. Ride Elementary School in Germantown, Maryland.


On December 6, 2006, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and First Lady Maria Shriver inducted Ride into the California Hall of Fame, located at the California Museum for History, Women, and the Arts.


Source: Wikipedia

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