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American Woman Award
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The 1998 American Woman Award
Sally Ride


Sally Ride was born on May 26, 1951 in Encino, California (near Los Angeles). At 27, with B.A., B.S., and masters' degrees, she was a Ph.D. candidate looking for postdoctoral work in astrophysics when she read about NASA's call for astronauts in the Stanford University paper. More than 8,000 men and women applied to the space program that year. Thirty-five were accepted, six of whom were women. One was Sally Ride.

Ride became the first American woman in space during the shuttle Challenger's 1983 missionm (STS-7). Her next flight was an eight-day mission in 1984, again on Challenger (STS 41-G). Her cumulative hours of space flight are more than 343.

Ride was preparing for her third mission when Challenger exploded in 1986. When training was suspended, she was appointed to the Presidential Commission charged with investigating the accident. In 1986, she moved to NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C., where she became assistant to the NASA administrator for long-range planning. Ride created NASA's "Office of Exploration" and produced a report on the future of the space program, "Leadership and America's Future in Space."

Ride retired from NASA in 1987 to become a Science Fellow at the Center for International Security and Arms Control at Stanford University. After two years, she was named Director of the California Space Institute and Professor of Physics at the University of California, San Diego where she pursues one of her heartfelt crusades, encouraging young women to study science and math.