• Tue, Feb 1 2011

Honorary LadyScout of the Week: Dr. Sally Ride

Dr. Sally Ride was the first American woman in space and when you read her name you probably get “Mustang Sally” stuck in your head, which is pretty great. In 1983, Dr. Ride boarded the Challenger for its second mission. Once out of the earth’s atmosphere, she and the rest of the crew deployed satellites, conducted experiments and (in non-official NASA terminology) played with a giant robot arm. GIANT ROBOT ARM! How cool is THAT? Gathering up space trash, throwing it at Saturn — or, the highly important satellite deployments that the crew actually performed with the device; a triumph for both women and robots. But this mission is only the one amazing journey in a storied career.

Dr. Ride took a very high-profile stand for female scientists as the first American woman in space, and continued her legacy when she went on to found Sally Ride Science. Sally Ride Science is a company that encourages young girls to get involved with technology, math, and (duh no duh) science. She has worked not only to further our knowledge of the world as a scientist (and as physics professor at UC San Diego), but has tried to spread that knowledge to our children through greater science education. It is readily evident that Dr. Ride has the admiration of her colleagues, having been inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame and the Astronaut Hall of Fame, on top of numerous other awards, but perhaps one of the most important honors bestowed on Dr. Ride was her place on each of the boards investigating the Challenger and the Columbia explosions. She was the only person to serve on both. As America’s most famous female astronaut (surpassing that terrifying diaperlady by a mile), Sally Ride is hugely intelligent, wildly respected, and incredibly generous.

A Sample of Notable Badges Earned:

Sally Ride earns the “Changing the Ratio” Badge not only for her work as the first American woman in space, but for her efforts to actually change the ratio through her work with Sally Ride Science. Hopefully more young girls will follow her example! Little known fact (or, at least, something we didn’t know before researching this): Sally Ride was once a nationally ranked tennis player. For this, we would like to award her the “Gym Class Hero” Badge because oh man, woman, do it all, why don’t you? We would also like to award Sally the “Get Outta Town” Badge, one) because haha, you get it, but more importantly, b) because Dr. Ride explored new horizons on behalf of all of us (us here being “the people of earth”), and returned with an improved understanding of our universe.

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  • JTarr24

    I did a book report on Sally Ride in elementary school. She was (and still is) my hero. She made me fall is love with space and science and robots. Thanks Dr. Ride for the career path!