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#TBT: Sally Ride Becomes First American Woman in Space 32 Years Ago Today

posted: 06/18/15
by: Danny Clemens
Sally Ride, America's first woman astronaut communitcates with ground controllers from the flight deck
U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

History was made on this day in 1983, when Sally Ride became the first American woman in space as Challenger lifted off for the second time from the Kennedy Space Center.

Prior to her ascent into orbit, Ride was subjected to "inane and almost insulting" scrutiny from the press regarding her gender. Reporters asked Ride if she weeps when things go wrong on the job and questioned her plans to bear children.

During her mission, Ride and her crew members deployed two communications satellites and executed several different scientific investigations. Ride returned to space aboard Challenger once more in 1984 before eventually being tasked with leading an important strategic planning effort about the future of NASA's space exploration programs.

Following her tenure at NASA, Ride held positions at Stanford University and University of California, San Diego. Before succumbing to pancreatic cancer in 2012, she spent the last decade of her life promoting STEM education.

Following Ride's death, it was reveled that she had been in a long-term relationship with her colleague Tam O'Shaughnessy, a science educator with whom Ride worked closely throughout her career. Ride is the first known LGBT astronaut.

Learn more about NASA astronauts:

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