At the age of 61, Sally Ride passed away last Monday of pancreatic cancer. She was the first American woman to fly into space. She was not the first of the women astronauts though and sure enough she was not the last. In the years since Ride blasted off aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger on June 18, 1983, 55 more women flown in space.
Ride recognized how she might use her celebrity to encourage more girls and women to pursue careers, not only in space programs but also in other scientific and technical fields. She started her own company, Sally Ride Science, to do just that. And it seems she did a good job at it.
Pamela Melroy, who flew into space in 2000, 2002, and 2007, told Space.com in an email: “I knew I wanted to be an astronaut from watching the Apollo astronauts land on the moon, but Sally cemented the belief inside me that I could do it. She paved the way for women to work in space and made it so much easier for other women to follow where she led.”
NASA administrator Charles Bolden said Ride “broke barriers with grace and professionalism–and literally changed the face of America’s space program.”
Below are the 25 women astronauts (including the two female cosmonauts who beat Ride into space.
25| Valentina Tereshkova, USSR, First Woman In Space, 1963
24| Svetlana Savitskaya, USSR, Second Woman In Space, 1982
23| Sally Ride, USA, First American Woman In Space, 1983
22| Judith Resnik USA, First Jewish-American In Space, 1984
21| Kathryn D. Sullivan, USA, 1984
20| Helen Sharman, UK, First Briton In Space, 1991
19| Roberta Bondar, Canada, First Canadian In Space, 1992
18| Tamara E. Jernigan, USA, Most Flights To Space, 1991
1 | 2 | 3 | 4