Nonfiction is the New Black
It wasn’t just U.S. media. The Soviet Union had already sent two women into space. When one of them arrived at the space station, a male cosmonaut (the Soviet term for astronauts) said, “An apron is waiting for you in the kitchen.”
By this point, Sally had mastered parachute jumping, water survival, coping with weightlessness and the massive G-forces from a rocket launch, and other highly demanding skills. She flew jet planes. She had a Ph.D. degree in physics from Stanford, one of the nation’s top universities. She helped develop a robotic arm for use on the space shuttle. She was a nationally ranked tennis player who decided not to turn pro because she preferred science.
The general public seemed more accepting. On launch day at Florida’s Cape Canaveral, thousands of people wore “Ride, Sally, Ride!” T-shirts, from the lyrics of the pop song “Mustang Sally.”
The mission went flawlessly, and Sally flew again the following year. She was scheduled for a third flight in 1986, but it was scrubbed when the Challenger space shuttle blew up.
Sally left the space program soon afterward. She was passionate about encouraging young people—especially girls—to become involved in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). Here are some of the things she did toward that achieving that goal.
- She originated the Sally Ride EarthKam project, in which middle school students request that astronauts take photos of any point on Earth. Students research features in the images to provide additional material for subjects they are studying.
- Her company Sally Ride Science offers programs encouraging STEM studies.
- Sally Ride Science Camps for Girls provide week-long immersions in science.
- Sally Ride Science Festivals bring hundreds of students together in day-long celebrations of science.
- She wrote seven children’s books about the Earth and various aspects of space travel.
Sadly, Sally Ride died of cancer in 2012 at the age of 61. Shortly afterward, President Barack Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom. It is the nation’s highest civilian honor.
Jim Whiting's website is under construction, but to find information on some of his many books, click here.
She graduated from Vassar College in math and physics then took a doctorate from Yale in math. In 1959 she was crucial in devising the first broad-based computer language, COBOL (COmmon Business Oriented Language) -- and she did all this as a Captain (and later Rear-Admiral) in the US Navy. Who was this amazing woman?? Jan Adkins will tell you tomorrow.