RIP, Sally Ride

“All adventures, especially into new territory, are scary.”

As you’ve probably heard, Sally Ride passed away yesterday at the age of 61 due to pancreatic cancer. Ride was not only the first U.S. woman to enter space, but the first LGBT American (she actually came out in her obituary) and the youngest astronaut to enter space at the time. “Groundbreaker” almost seems like an understatement.

She was also a staunch advocate for girls’ and women’s involvement in science, setting up programs across the country to urge girls to get involved in STEM. She is survived by her childhood friend turned partner of 27 years, Tam O’Shaughnessy, her mother Joyce and her sister Ms. Scott, who is known as Bear.

We wish Ride had more time in this world to continue her work who has meant so much to so many, but her legacy of will no doubt extend far beyond her life — as well as ours.

Pic via. 

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  • Dan C

    Really sad. I used to teach a high school astronomy class and we would watch lots of old NASA footage. I remember cringing when they would show group shots of NASA from the 60s or 70s. All male, all white, almost all of them under 35. NASA was seen, and prioritized, as being directly related to national defense.

    This began to change right around the time that Sally Ride first rode the shuttle. It was difficult to justify NASA’s huge budget with the Cold War beginning to wane. However, there were some people who correctly understood that NASA’s true value wasn’t as an instrument in military superiority. Instead, it could, in the long run, pay for itself if it were used to as a marketing tool to inspire STEM interest in young Americans.

    Many, many children lack interest in science because scientists are seen as ‘others'; old, strange men in weird clothes who are completely out of touch with mainstream society. I love Bill Nye as much as the next nerd, but, to some extent, he’s part of the problem. If I tell a 14 year old girl that she could be the next Bill Nye, she is likely to roll her eyes. It’s difficult for most girls to dream of being Bill Nye, or Stephen Jay Gould, or Philip Morrison. It’s a lot easier for them to dream of being Sally Ride. Besides her actual scientific work, she also did an excellent job of marketing science to a generation of young women.