A Brief History
On May 26, 1951, Sally Ride was born in Los Angeles, California. She would grow up to earn BA, BS, MS and PhD diplomas from Stanford University, and in June of 1983 became the first American woman to take a ride into space, via the Space Shuttle Challenger.
Ride became the third woman space explorer, having been preceded into space by Soviet cosmonauts Belarusian Valentina Tereshkova in 1963 and Russian Svetlana Savitskaya in 1982.
Since the flights of these history making women, women have made over 75 space flights by at least 70 women. In 2010, a record was set by four women being in space at the same time. Women from 10 or more countries and ethnicities have made the launch into space, and sadly four of these intrepid ladies have died in conjunction with space flight.
Other women have contributed greatly to space exploration as engineers, mathematicians, and other support occupations. So far, around 10% of space travelers have been women, though we expect that portion to steadily increase.
Sally Ride died in 2012 at the age of 61, the victim of pancreatic cancer, but her legacy lives on every time another American woman flies into space.
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For more information, please see…
Gibson, Karen. Women in Space: 23 Stories of First Flights, Scientific Missions, and Gravity-Breaking Adventures. Chicago Review Press, 2020.
Sherr, Lynn. Sally Ride: America’s First Woman in Space. Simon & Schuster, 2015.
The featured image in this article, a photograph of Sally Ride in a NASA T-38 Talon jet, is in the public domain in the United States because it was solely created by NASA. NASA copyright policy states that “NASA material is not protected by copyright unless noted“. (See Template:PD-USGov, NASA copyright policy page or JPL Image Use Policy.)
You can also watch video versions of this article on YouTube.