A week ago we were shocked to learn that Sally Ride died from pancreatic cancer. We quickly shared memories with one another – whether they were of her first spaceflight, getting her autograph, or participating in a Sally Ride Science event.
Not only was Sally Ride just 25 when she was selected as a member of the first Shuttle class of Astronauts, she was also one of a handful of women chosen for the first time to be a NASA Astronaut. When she was the first American woman to fly in space in 1983 she became broke down barriers that people today don’t even question.
I “discovered” human spaceflight in late 1985 as a fifth grader. Sally Ride being the first woman to fly in space was a reality that I didn’t examine. It simply was what it was. The thought that I couldn’t become an astronaut because I was a girl never crossed my mind. And honestly, until her death I didn’t realize that it was only a period of two years between her first flight and the birth of my dream to become an astronaut. What if I discovered spaceflight three years earlier? Would society have taught me it was something not for girls? What if I was born in the 60s? Would I not be an aerospace engineer today? I am who I am because of how history was shaped. What if just one of the Mercury 13 members had been chosen by NASA? Who would they have inspired to reach for the stars?
While I never attributed Sally Ride for directly inspiring me, without a doubt she was part of the NASA that did inspire me to follow my dreams.
Now the question is how did Sally Ride inspire you?