On this day in 1983, Dr. Sally Kristen Ride (1951-2012) made history by becoming the first American woman in space, orbiting Earth for six days aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger. As a mission specialist, she launched communications and test satellites.
Upon her return, she said, "The thing I'll remember most about the flight is that it was fun. In fact, I'm sure it was the most fun that I'll ever have in my life."
A gifted athlete from Los Angeles, California, she gave up a career as a tennis player to join NASA's astronaut training program and chase after stars.
"In high school, I had two teachers who spent a lot of time with me. But more than that, they encouraged me and gave me confidence," Ride explained.
Ride received her doctorate in physics from Stanford University and was selected in 1978 from 8,000 applicants. Ride learned to fly a jet and participated in the design of the remote mechanical manipulator arm to deploy and retrieve satellites. She went on to log 350 hours of space flight.
"All adventures, especially into new territory, are scary," she said.
In 2000, she founded Sally Ride Science which provides programs to help motivate and support girls in math, science, and technology, which she called a "business imperative for the country."
She was an inspiration and celebration... and once said, "Young girls need to see role models in whatever careers they may choose, just so they can picture themselves doing those jobs someday. You canít be what you canít see."
She hoped to make a difference and connect girls with life-changing, collabortive resources.
"In twenty or so years from now, I may call NASA to see if they'll give me a rocket trip to Mars," said Ride in 1999, who continued after her space adventures to light the light for others, helping them reach for the stars.
Stars glimmer with magical promise.