Sally Ride

Wednesday Geek Woman: Sally Ride, astronaut and first American woman in space

Posted: 13 Jul 2011 08:00 AM PDT

This is a guest post by Maya. This entry originally appeared at the Project Exploration blog.

Sally Ride. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Sally Ride was born in 1951 in Los Angeles, California. As a young woman, her interests included science and tennis. She was a nationally ranked amateur, and she briefly left college to pursue tennis as a career. After several months of practice, she gave up on the idea and transferred to Stanford University, where she double majored in English and physics. After completing her undergraduate degree, she remained at Stanford to earn a master’s degree and a doctorate in physics.

After completing her education, Ride joined the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). She trained rigorously for a year, during which time she collaborated on the development of the Space Shuttle’s robot arm and worked in mission control as a Capsule Communicator. Once her training was completed, she was assigned to the Space Shuttle Challenger. When the shuttle was launched on June 18, 1983, Ride became the first American woman in space. Her second and final flight took place the following year. Over the course of her two missions, she spent a total of 14 days in space.

Ride was scheduled to take a third flight, but all training was suspended after the tragic Challenger accident in 1986. Instead, she was appointed to the Presidential Commission responsible for investigating the disaster. After the investigation was completed, she was assigned to NASA Headquarters.

Sally Ride aboard the Space Shuttle. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

In 1989, Ride was offered a faculty position at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). At UCSD, she filled two roles—professor of physics and Director of the California Space Institute. In 2001, she founded her own company, Sally Ride Science, with the goal of promoting science education. She is now on leave from the university, working as president and chief executive officer of Sally Ride Science.

Ride has received numerous awards for her accomplishments. She has been inducted into the California Hall of Fame, the National Women’s Hall of Fame, the Astronaut Hall of Fame, and the Aviation Hall of Fame. She is also a two-time NASA Space Flight Medalist.

Science is Ride’s passion, and she has written 6 books for children about space. She continues working to improve opportunities in science education, particularly for girls and young women. She hopes that today’s young people will come to share her love of science.





Sally Ride Science


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On doing what it takes, and then some

Wednesday Geek Woman: Pancho Barnes

Posted: 12 Jan 2011 08:00 AM PST

This is a guest post by Kelly Seiler, who blogs at Undercover Feminist. She is an electrical engineer working on the avionics for an unmanned airplane.

I heard about Pancho Barnes when the documentary, “The Legend of Pancho Barnes and the Happy Bottom Riding Club” was screened at an after work event. As an engineer working in aerospace, I was definitely the target audience! I was extremely impressed by this woman, a legend of the Golden Age of Flight, who I had never heard anything about before. The Golden Age of Flight was the period between the two world wars that saw airplanes go from fabric and wood to metal structure. Flight records were set for what today are everyday occurrences (think: transatlantic flights).

When Pancho heard that pilot licenses weren’t being given to women, she dressed as a man for the picture on her license and sent in the paperwork using her initials. She flew as a stunt pilot for Hollywood films and was Lockheed’s first female test pilot. As times changed Pancho sold her Hollywood apartment and bought land in the desert near Edwards Air Force Base which she used to create the Happy Bottom Riding Club. The club featured a FAA approved runway, bar, restaurant, dude ranch, and a dance hall. Test pilots, aviation legends, and even heads of state were known to frequent the club which had over 9,000 members worldwide at its peak.

If your interested in some of the other female flying legends, check out The Ninety-Nines — a woman’s flying club that was founded by 99 licensed female pilots in 1929. Amelia Earhart was its first president.

Wikipedia: Pancho Barnes

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