“You can’t be what you can’t see”
~ Sally Ride ~

I wonder when Sally Ride wrote her letter to NASA, if she knew she would be breaking the ultimate glass ceiling?

In 1977, while a PhD student in astrophysics at Stanford, she responded to an article that was in the Stanford Daily stating that NASA contacted Stanford in order to recruit women for the Space Shuttle Program. She would submit a letter of only forty words to NASA, shown in the picture below:

Photo Credit: Tam O’Shaughnessy

It says:

“To Whom it May Concern,
I am a PhD candidate in astrophysics at Stanford University, and am interested in the Space Shuttle Program. Please send me the forms necessary to apply as a “mission specialist” candidate.

Thank You,
Sally Ride”

Tam O’Shaughnessy, her life partner, said that Ride did not think about becoming an astronaut until she saw the article. According to O’Shaughnessy, “She was eating breakfast in the cafeteria at Stanford and thought, Oh my God, I want to do that. I want to try to do that”.

The oral history by NASA Johnson Space Center, says Sally Ride would be selected in January of 1978. The new class of astronauts would total thirty-five, and six of the team would be women. It would be perfect timing for Ride in that she would defend her thesis in late June and then get into her car and drive to Houston, to start a new and exciting opportunity.

Ride first went to space on June 18th., 1983 (36 years ago) as a mission specialist, on the second mission for the Space Shuttle Challenger, and she went again in 1984. She was due to return but those plans were stopped when the Challenger was destroyed in an accident in 1986.

All seven crew members on the shuttle mission were killed when the Challenger broke up just over a minute into its flight, on January 28, 1986.
It is important, especially for the young people, in our life, that we stay Connected to our past, including such heroines as Sally Ride. We need role models in every field, and if we look, we will find that there are amazing people out there who are impacting our world.

If I may paraphrase Ms. Ride, girls and boys need to see so that they can be!

“I can’t remember a single time my parents ever told me
not to do something I wanted to do.”
~ Sally Ride ~

From Wikipedia :

“Sally Kristen Ride (May 26, 1951 – July 23, 2012) was an American astronaut, physicist, and engineer. Born in Los Angeles, she joined NASA in 1978 and became the first American woman in space in 1983. Ride was the third woman in space overall, after USSR cosmonauts Valentina Tereshkova (1963) and Svetlana Savitskaya (1982). Ride remains the youngest American astronaut to have traveled to space, having done so at the age of 32. After flying twice on the Orbiter Challenger, she left NASA in 1987. She worked for two years at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Arms Control, then at the University of California, San Diego as a professor of physics, primarily researching nonlinear optics and Thomson scattering. She served on the committees that investigated the Challenger and Columbia space shuttle disasters, the only person to participate in both. Ride died of pancreatic cancer on July 23, 2012.”

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