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Sally Ride

First American Woman in Space


Astronaut Sally K. Ride responds to interview question - 05.25.1983

Astronaut Sally K. Ride, mission specialist for STS-7, responds to a question from an interviewer during a taping session for ABC's Night Line. Dr. Ride is in the shuttle mockup and integration laboratory.

Courtesy NASA Johnson Space Center (NASA-JSC)
NASA official portrait of female astronaut Sally Ride.

NASA official portrait of female astronaut Sally Ride.

Courtesy NASA Johnson Space Center (NASA-JSC)
A photograph of astronaut Sally Ride as a candidate for the astronaut program

Astronaut Candidate Sally Ride

Courtesy NASA Glenn Research Center (NASA-GRC)

Sally Ride Facts:

Occupation: astronaut, scientist, physicist, writer
Dates: May 26, 1951 - July 23, 2012
Also known as: Sally K. Ride, Sally Kristen Ride, Sally Kirsten Ride, Mrs. Steven A. Hawley

Sally Ride Biography:

A California native, Sally Ride studied physics and English at Stanford University. She had been a nationally ranked tennis player, but chose science and college over a tennis career.

Applying to NASA's training program for astronauts on an impulse in 1978, Sally Ride became one of six women of 35 trainees chosen. She was a capsule communicator at mission control for the second shuttle mission. Sally Ride was chosen as a member of the space shuttle's seventh mission in 1982, and she became the first American woman astronaut when the space shuttle Challenger took off on June 18, 1983.

Sally Ride later flew, also on the Challenger, on the thirteenth space shuttle flight; on that flight, Ride's friend, Kathryn Sullivan, became the first American woman to walk in space.

Sally Ride was in training for a third shuttle mission when the space shuttle Challenger exploded in January, 1986, with its crew aboard. Ride was appointed to the Presidential Commission investigating the accident, the only astronaut on that commission. She then worked for NASA's administration, creating the Office of Exploration and producing a report on the space program's future.

Briefly married to a fellow astronaut, Sally Ride left NASA in 1987, teaching physics first at Stanford then at the University of California, San Diego.

Sally Ride has written several books, including two for children. In 1992, she was a member of the transtion team for president-elect Bill Clinton. Sally Ride was president of the website Space.com for a year, 1999-2000.

She died on July 23, 2012, of pancreatic cancer. She was 61 years old.


  • Mother: Carol Joyce (Anderson) Ride
  • Father: Dale Burdell Ride
  • Siblings: Karen, a minister
  • Husband: Steve Hawley (married 1982; divorced 1986)
  • Partner: Tam O’Shaughnessy (since 1986)


  • Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania
  • Stanford University: B.S. Physics and B.A. English, 1973; Ph.D. astrophysics, 1978


  • Ride, Sally and Tam O'Shaughnessy. The Mystery of Mars. 1999. Fiction, ages 9-12.
  • Ride, Sally and Susan Okie. To Space and Back.1986. Ages 9-12.
  • Camp, Carole Ann. Sally Ride: First American Woman in Space. Age: young adult.
  • Hopping, Lorraine Jean. Sally Ride: Space Pioneer. 2000. Ages 9-12.
  • Hurwitz, Jane and Sue Hurwitz. Sally Ride: Shooting for the Stars. 1989. Ages 9-12.
  • Stott, Carole. Into the Unknown.
  • Verheyden-Hilliard, Mary E. Scientist and Astronaut: Sally Ride.1985. Ages 9-12.

More About Sally Ride:

  • Categories: Astronaut, physicist
  • Organizational Affiliations include: EarthKAM, Imaginary Lines, NASA, Space.com
  • Religion: Presbyterian
  • Places: United States
  • Period: 20th century

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