Sally Ride Day

Image Credit: NASA
Happy Sally Ride Day, space heads! Every year, May 26th pays homage to the incredible life of American astronaut and physicist Sally Kristen Ride (yep, the whole government name). Ride was recruited by NASA in 1978, specifically for the Space Shuttle Program, and became the first American woman to grace space in June of 1983 aboard the trusty shuttle Challenger (Sadly, I couldn't be as riveted as the rest of the country at only a wee three-ish months old). 
Ride was the third woman in space overall, behind Valentina Tereshkova (1963) and Svetlana Savitskaya (1982), and remains the youngest American astronaut to launch wildly into the stars at age 32. On Ride's epic day, American activist Gloria Stein was quoted as saying, "Millions of little girls are going to sit by their television sets, and see they can be astronauts, heroes, explorers and scientists."

Image Credit: NASA
After one more flight on Challenger, Ride left NASA in 1987 to pursue work as an educator. She became a professor of physics, as well as the director of the California Space Institute located at the University of California San Diego. 
Ride was honored with several accolades for her scientific contributions, including the National Space Society's Von Braun Award (presented by the Huntsville Chapter of the National Space Club), the Lindbergh Eagle, the NCAA's Theodore Roosevelt Award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom (posthumously in 2013) and the coveted NASA Space Flight Medal (twice). Furthermore, Ride was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame, the Astronaut Hall of Fame and the National Aviation Hall of Fame. She is also considered the first acknowledged LGBTQ+ astronaut in history!
Fun Fact: The Von Braun Award is given in odd-numbered years (1995 for Ride); and hers can now be found in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, as it was donated by Ride's partner in 2013 after her passing in 2012.
In 2001, Ride founded Sally Ride Science, a non-profit organization, with the help and support of her long-time partner Dr. Tam O'Shaughnessy, and friends and colleagues Karen Flammer, Terry McEntee and Alann Lopes. The mission of Sally Ride Science was (and still is) to inspire young whippersnappers to get involved in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), and to promote literacy in these tracks.
Image Credit: NASA
Something cool I came across while looking into the organization is that Dr. Tam O'Shaughnessy currently provides a series of online articles called Tam on STEAM, which features the career paths and accomplishments of women who are doing groundbreaking research from astronomy to zoology and everything in between. Interested in donating to Sally Ride Science? Get more info here.
And finally, I'll leave you with a bunch of neat and random things about Ride: there are two elementary schools named after her (one is here in Maryland); a U.S. Navy research ship was named after her; she was inducted into the Legacy Walk, an outdoor festival that celebrates LGBT history and people; she had a Google Doodle on International Women's Day; a first-class postage stamp was released in her honor; and for their first match last year, the United States women's national soccer team sported jerseys with the names of women who inspire them, and Tierna Davidson chose Sally Ride.
Thank you, Sally, for being such a memorably badass woman. We salute you.

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