was a monumental year for Sally Kristen Ride. After responding to
a newspaper ad that was recruiting astronauts, she became one of
six women accepted into the program.
Ride's training at NASA was a far cry from her Ph.D. studies in
astrophysics at Stanford University. Among other duties, she jumped
out of airplanes, underwent weightlessness training, and learned
how to survive for long periods in water.
started her career on the ground, acting as mission control communications
officer for the Columbia Space Shuttle missions that took place
in November 1981 and March 1982. In 1983, she finally earned what
no other American woman had done before: the chance to fly into
space. She took her first trip aboard the Challenger.
the Challenger exploded in 1986, Ride joined the team responsible
for investigating the tragedy. Afterward, she worked at NASA headquarters
in Washington D.C, where she wrote a report called "Leadership and
America's Future in Space."
In 1987, Ride left NASA and returned to Stanford University as a
Science Fellow at the Center for International Security and Arms
is now the director of the California Space Institute and Professor
of Physics at the University of California, San Diego.