NASA astronaut Sally Ride became the first American woman to go to space on June 18, 1983, when she launched on the space shuttle Challenger with mission STS-7. In 1984, she flew on the Challenger again for mission STS-41-G. Ride spent a totaly of 14 days and 7 hours in space during her career as an astronaut, and she continued to be a champion for science education until she died of cancer in 2012. See photos of Ride's historic spaceflights in this Space.com gallery.
Sally Ride on STS-7
Astronaut Sally Ride is pictured on the space shuttle Challenger's middeck during the STS-7 mission, on June 24, 2983.
Official NASA portrait
Sally Ride in an official NASA portrait, taken May 31, 1984.
On the flight deck
The first U.S. woman in space, Sally Ride, monitors control panels from the pilot's chair on the flight deck of the STS-7 mission.
STS-7 crew photo
Inflight view of the crew of the STS-7 mission. In the rear from left to right are Cmdr. Robert L. Crippen, shuttle pilot Frederick H. Hauck, and mission specialist John M. Fabian. In front are mission specialists Sally K. Ride and Norman E. Thagard.
Training for STS-7
Two members of the STS-7 crew, mission specialist Sally Ride and pilot Frederick Hauck, go over procedures in operating the remote manipulator system at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.
Sally Ride with the Shuttle Mission Simulator
Astronaut Sally K. Ride, mission specialist for STS-7, stands outside of the Shuttle Mission Simulator (SMS) on May 27, 1983. She is wearing the shuttle blue flight suit.
STS-7 crew during training
Members of the STS-7 crew are pictured during a training session.
Reviewing post-flight data
Astronaut Sally K. Ride goes over post-flight data from STS-3 during a crew debriefing session at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.
Sally Ride in Mission Control
Astronaut Sally Ride at the CapCom console during STS-2 simulation.
Sally Ride on ABC's "Nightline"
Astronaut Sally Ride, mission specialist for the STS-7 mission, responds to a question from an interviewer during a taping session for ABC's "Nightline."
The STS-41G crew. In the lead is mission specialist Kathryn Sullivan. Behind her are Cmdr. Robert Crippen and mission specialist Sally Ride. Behind Crippen and Ride are payload specialist Paul Scully-Power and mission specialist David Leestma. Behind them are pilot Jon McBride and payload specialist Marc Garneau.
Sally Ride Science Festival, 2003
Former astronaut Sally Ride talks to young women at the Sally Ride Science Festival, held at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Fla., in 2003.
Sally Ride in a T-38 aircraft
Astronaut Sally Ride is seated in the cockpit of a T-38 aircraft in preparation to depart for the Kennedy Space Center ahead of the STS-41G mission.
Astronaut Sally Ride stands outside of the shuttle mission simulator after a training session for the STS-7 mission.
Sally Ride's astronaut class
This is a montage of the individual portraits of the 35-member 1978 class of astronaut candidates. The image was created January 1978.
On the flight deck
Seen on the flight deck of the space shuttle Challenger, astronaut Sally K. Ride, STS-7 mission specialist, became the first American woman in space on June 18, 1983.
Inside the space shuttle Challenger
Astronaut Sally K. Ride, STS-7 mission specialist, performs a number of functions simultaneously, proving the necessity for versatility and dexterity in space travel. This photo was taken on June 21, 1983.
Astronaut Sally K. Ride, STS-7 mission specialist, displays the array of tools at her disposal on the mid deck of the space shuttle Challenger, in June 1983.
Sally Ride calls Ground Control
Astronaut Sally K. Ride, STS-7 mission specialist, communicates with ground controllers from the mid deck of the space shuttle Challenger, in June 1983.
Onboard the Challenger
Astronaut Robert L. Crippen, STS-7 commander, used a 35mm camera to expose this frame of the four representatives of the "thirty five new guys" onboard the space shuttle Challenger, in June 1983.
Sally Ride on a T-38 Jet
Astronaut Sally K. Ride, STS-7 mission specialist, takes one last look at familiar training environs before taking off from NASA's Houston facility in a T-38 jet aircraft, to fly to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This photo was taken June 15, 1983.
Mission sequence test
Astronaut Sally K. Ride (left) participates in a mission sequence test in preparation for STS-7, in the Kennedy Space Center’s vertical processing facility, on May 5, 1983.
Prelaunch activity for STS-6
Astronaut Sally K. Ride, mission specialist for STS-7, records some of the prelaunch activity for STS-6 on 35mm film at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, on April 4, 1983.
Bag of "worms" onboard
Astronauts Kathryn D. Sullivan (left) and Sally K. Ride show off what appears to be a "bag of worms" — a product of their creativity. The "bag" is a sleep restraint, and the majority of the "worms" are springs and clips used with the sleep restraint in its normal application. This photo was taken during the STS-41-G mission in October 1984.
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Space.com is the premier source of space exploration, innovation and astronomy news, chronicling (and celebrating) humanity's ongoing expansion across the final frontier. Originally founded in 1999, Space.com is, and always has been, the passion of writers and editors who are space fans and also trained journalists. Our current news team consists of Editor-in-Chief Tariq Malik; Editor Hanneke Weitering, Senior Space Writer Mike Wall; Senior Writer Meghan Bartels; Senior Writer Chelsea Gohd, Senior Writer Tereza Pultarova and Staff Writer Alexander Cox, focusing on e-commerce. Senior Producer Steve Spaleta oversees our space videos, with Diana Whitcroft as our Social Media Editor.