Monday, July 23, 2012

Sally Ride 1951-2012

Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, has died at her home in La Jolla, California after a 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer.  Besides her two space shuttle flights, both aboard the Challenger, she served on the commission that investigated the explosion of that same shuttle in 1986.  She later served on the board investigating the loss of the Columbia in 2003, the only person to serve on both the Challenger and Columbia commissions.

Sally Ride received bachelor's degrees in both English and physics, and then went on to earn a masters and a PhD in physics, all from Stanford University.  Besides her work for NASA, she also served as a physics professor at the University of California, San Diego and as the director of the school's California Space Institute.  She also started her own company Sally Ride Science, which created educational programs and products intended to help girls and young women pursue interests in science and math.  Dr. Ride received many honors for her work, including NCAA's Theodore Roosevelt Award and the NASA Space Flight Medal.

Read more at Biography, MSNBC, Fox News, USA Today, Yahoo News and CNET.  The MSNBC report recalls that on the day of her first space flight, thousands of people wore T-shirts and buttons bearing the slogan "Ride, Sally, Ride", but does not say where that slogan comes from.  That particular phrase is found in the backing vocals of a Wilson Pickett song.  Little did Pickett (or whoever actually wrote the song) know that he was predicting by name the first American woman to go into space.

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