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SALLY'S RIDE 20 YEARS AGO



Submitted by Arthur - N1ORC

On June 18, 1983, a young physicist from California took her seat aboard
the Space Shuttle and prepared to launch into history. Dr. Sally Ride
was about to become the first American woman in space.

Her first space mission lasted 147 hours, but the implications of it
stretched much farther into the future. Her flight opened the door for
dozens of other American women -- 30 to 
date -- to fly into orbit.

Since then, women in the space program have soared. Astronaut Shannon
Lucid holds the record for time spent in space -- more than any other
woman in the world. In 1999, Eileen Collins became the first female
Shuttle commander. She is also poised to command the first Shuttle
mission when the fleet returns to flight following the Columbia
accident.

Ride's unprecedented journey began in 1977, when she saw a help-wanted
ad in the newspaper. It said NASA was looking for scientists -- not just
pilots -- for its astronaut corps. The new, reusable spacecraft the
agency was planning to deploy, the Space Shuttle, would need the
scientists as "mission specialists" to carry out research and other
tasks.

Ride was one of five women selected to the astronaut class of 1978. She
was the only woman in a crew of five when the Space Shuttle Challenger
took her on her first mission. Ride was an instant celebrity;
schoolchildren everywhere knew her name. In an instant, little girls
learned that even the sky wasn't the limit.

"I think Sally was more representative of a profound cultural change
where the world was ready to have a woman in that kind of job," said
Astronaut Pam Melroy, who graduated from college around the time of
Ride's first flight. 

Twenty years after her historic mission, Ride is involved with human
space flight again. She is using her expertise as a member of the
investigative panel looking into the Space Shuttle Columbia accident, a
role she also played during the Challenger investigation.

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