Sally Kristen Ride (May 26, 1951 – July 23, 2012) was an American physicist and astronaut. Ride joined NASA in 1978 and at the age of 32, became the first American woman to enter into low Earth orbit on June 18, 1983. Her second space flight was in 1984, also on board the Challenger. She spent a total of more than 343 hours in space.
She left NASA in 1987 to work at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Arms Control and had served on the investigation panels for two space shuttle disasters (Challenger and Columbia)—the only person to serve on both.
She founded Sally Ride Science in 2001 and co-authored five children’s science books with her life partner of 27 years, Tam O’Shaughnessy, as well as another dozen or so space-related titles.
Ride remains the youngest American astronaut to be launched into space.
Ride died on July 23, 2012, at age 61, seventeen months after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.