36 years ago, Dr. Sally Ride became the first American woman in space

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Who run the world…and space? Girls! This week marks the 36th anniversary of the first American woman in space: Dr. Sally Ride. At 32 years old, Sally Ride was also the youngest American to enter space and the first American woman to travel to space twice.

After a brief start in a tennis career, Ride decided that college was where she wanted to be. She attended Stanford University and earned bachelor’s degrees in physics and English, as well as a master’s and a doctorate degree in physics. When she saw a posting from NASA encouraging women to apply to their astronaut program, Ride write a 40-word essay that led her to beating out 1,000 other applicants for a spot.

On June 18, 1983, Ride and four other crew members were launched in the Challenger space shuttle for a six-day mission. Sally served as a mission specialist, and worked with a robotic arm on the shuttle to set up communication satellites.

After NASA, Ride continued to contribute to the world of astronomy by becoming the director of the California Space Institute, working as a a physics professor at the University of California San Diego, and founding a nonprofit organization to promote STEM careers called Sally Ride Science. She also received numerous awards and inductions throughout, and even after, her lifetime.

Dr. Ride was, and still is, a source of inspiration for girls, boys, and dreamers everywhere to reach for the stars. As Barack Obama said, “Sally’s life showed us that there are no limits to what we can achieve.”

We’re celebrating Dr. Ride all weekend in the planetarium! Stop by our all-live show, “Wonders of the Night Sky,” to learn more about her incredible career. Click here to get showtimes and see more of what’s playing in the Jennifer Chalsty Planetarium.

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