Sally Ride has been our hero and role-model in this modern world where female heroes and role-models are rare - and, all too soon, we are losing the few we have come to admire, appreciate and respect. It was just one month since we lost Sally Ride, at age 61, to pancreatic cancer.
By June 18th 1983, we came to know and love Sally Ride as America's first female astronaut in space. All of America watched the lift-off that day. Observers at Cape Canaveral and those watching via television shouted, "Ride, Sally Ride" as NASA's Challenger STS-7 made its way skyward. She was, at age 32, the youngest American astronaut to enter space. The following year, she was again a crew member aboard the Challenger STS-47-G.
Ride was fascinated by math and science, particularly astrological physics and electron laser physics and she was atheltic, being a nationally ranked tennis player. Sally was one of the 8,000 people who responded to an ad seeking applicants for the space program. She helped NASA develop the Space Shuttle's robot arm and was the first to use the robot arm to retrieve a satellite in space. After 343 hours in space, she served on several NASA review panels and advisory boards. She wrote five books about space for adolescent children. A song Mustang Sally, had been written years before Ride was an astyronaut but the tune became synonymous with her NASA fame, so everyone knew and sang the lyrics "...ride, Sally ride."
Sally Ride dedicated herself to encouraging young people in the study of science and math. She established courses, curriculum and a school to this end. She invented a camera to fly with the shuttle, taking photographs for school students: EarthKAM and MoonKAM. She was a leader, a teacher and explorer.
She has left Earth one more time. But, Look up and you may see her still - right there in Heaven - where she has flown before - and where her star will always shine brightly.
"Ride, Sally Ride"