It’s been 36 years since the world observed a giant leap for womankind. June 18th marks the 36th anniversary of astronaut Sally Ride’s famous trip into space.
At just 32 years old, Ride was the first American woman, and the youngest American, to leave the atmosphere when she left the Space Shuttle Challenger on June 18, 1983.
The ride is seen talking with ground control during her six-day space mission on board the Challenger in 1983.
During the six-day mission, she worked as a mission specialist using the shuttle’s robotic arm to extend communications satellites.
Her career as an astronaut began as she was completing her Ph.D. in astrophysics at Stanford University.
In 1977, NASA displayed an advertisement in her school’s student newspaper encouraging women to apply for the space program, prompting Ride to send a 40-word letter asking for an application. She ended up beating out more than 1,000 other applicants and was one of six women selected to the astronaut program.
But Ride wasn’t done making history. Just one year after her historic Challenger mission, Ride traveled to space for a second time. That made her the first American woman to travel to space twice.
She was actually scheduled for a third spaceflight, but the 1986 Challenger accident ended those plans. Ride then served on the Rogers Commission as head of the subcommittee on operations to investigate the explosion.
Later on, she worked on the investigation into the accident involving the Space Shuttle Columbia, making her the only person to work on the committees for both accidents.
After leaving NASA, Ride became director of the California Space Institute, as well as a professor of physics at the University of California, San Diego.
The ride was passionate about developing education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, especially for girls. In 2001, she founded SallyRide Science, a nonprofit that promotes science education programs and works to help students pursue interests in STEM fields.