"As so many careers do, it all started with a help-wanted ad. In 1977, NASA placed, literally, ads in newspapers soliciting applicants for the nation's space program, and Sally Ride answered one. She had grown up in Los
Angeles, attended private schools on scholarship, was a nationally ranked tennis player, and had earned bachelor's and master's degrees and a Ph.D. in physics, from Stanford University before she was accepted by the space agency as one of six women in a class of 35 new astronauts. Five years later, she was selected to be the first American woman in space, flying as part of a five-member crew on the space shuttle Challenger. The next year she took her second space flight, also on the Challenger and was preparing for her third when the Challenger tragedy occurred in 1986. Ride was named
to the commission charged with investigating the accident, as she would be 17 years later, when the space shuttle Columbia met a similar fate, but her time as an astronaut was coming to an end. The next year, she retired from NASA and went to work at Stanford's Center for International Security and Arms Control, and in 1989 she joined the faculty of the University of California at San Diego, teaching physics and serving as director of the California Space Institute. In 2001 she founded Sally Ride Science, a company that creates programs and curricular materials for middle school-age students, particularly girls, promoting the importance of studying science. The 59-year-old remains the company's president and CEO today, though she'll always be known as a pioneer who held open the shuttle door so that other women, and men, could follow in her history-making footsteps." - Evan Smith, Texas Monthly Talks, 06.17.09
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