Sally Ride was a Los Angeles native who was born in 1951. She would later go on to study at Stanford University, where she held a double major on both English and physics. She graduated in 1973 with a bachelor’s degree in both subjects. In 1975, she earned a master’s degree and then completed her study for a PHD in 1978.
The road into NASA was grueling, with Ride competing against 1,000 other potential candidates. The competition was tough, but she joined the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s program and went through the rigorous training. By 1983, she was ready for her place in history.
Ride became the first American woman in space on June 18th of that year, flying in the space shuttle Challenger. Her job as mission specialist was to deploy satellites and help manage work on other projects.
Ride returned on June 24th, and was re-deployed in October of that year for a second time where she served the same role. Ride was supposed to be aboard the Challenger for a third trip, but the accident on January 28th, 1986 scrapped her plans. She was not supposed to be on that flight, but she later became part of the presidential commission that investigated the wreck.
After NASA, Ride moved onto becoming the director of the California Space Institute. She became a professor of physics at UC San Diego, and she became a private educator in 2001. Her programs were geared toward helping girls develop a passion for science and math early in life.
She died in 2012 at the age of 61, a hero by all accounts.