1983: First American Woman in Space

1983: First American Woman in Space
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 18 June 1983
  • The U.S. were 20 years behind the USSR in sending the first woman into space. The first American woman launched into space was Sally Ride, a 32-year-old scientist who grew up in California.

On this day in 1983, the first American woman was launched into space.

Her name was Sally Ride and she was than 32 years old. It is interesting that she remained the youngest American person ever launched into space. Taking into account all the world’s nations, Sally Ride was the third woman in history to go into space. She was preceded by two Soviet cosmonaut women, Valentina Tereshkova and Svetlana Savitskaya (the first one in 1963 and the second in 1982). It should be noted that the U.S. were 20 years behind the USSR in sending the first woman into space (Tereshkova was launched exactly 20 years and 2 days before Sally Ride).

Sally Ride was born in Los Angeles in 1951. She was a physicist, and studied at the famous Stanford University, where she earned a Ph.D. in physics. She applied to participate in the NASA space program and was admitted in 1978.

Sally Ride’s space flight was carried out on board the Challenger, on its second mission (if counting all the space shuttles, it was the seventh mission). During this mission, Sally was in the shuttle with four male astronauts. The mission, during which the shuttle Challenger flew around the Earth 97 times, lasted about six days.

Sally Ride was later sent into space one more time, again in the Challenger, on the sixth mission of that space shuttle. The Challenger exploded in a tragic accident on its tenth mission, about a year and three months after Sally Ride’s last flight. Astronaut Ride lived to be 61 years of age, and died in California in 2012 of pancreatic cancer.

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