At 27, with B.A., B.S. and master’s degrees, Ride was a Ph.D. candidate looking for post-doctoral work in astrophysics when she read in the Stanford University paper about NASA’s call for astronauts. More than 8,000 men and women applied to the space program that year, and 35 individuals, including six women, were accepted; one was Sally Ride. After begin accepted into the astronaut corps in 1978, Ride underwent extensive training that included parachute jumping, water survival, gravity and weightlessness training, radio communications and navigation. In 1983, Dr. Ride became the premier American woman to orbit Earth on board Space Shuttle Challenger, and her next flight in 1984 was an eight-day mission.
After retiring from NASA in 1987, the former astronaut became a Science Fellow at the Center for International Security and Arms Control at her alma mater, Stanford University. Two years later she was appointed to her current position as Director of the California Space Institute and professor of physics at the University of California, San Diego. In her ongoing commitment to empower upper elementary and middle school girls to explore the world of science, Dr. Ride founded the Sally Ride Science, an interactive Web site. Through “innovative science programs,” including science festivals, science camps, and a national contest for students to create a new toy or game, Sally Ride Science “informs and inspires” girls to explore fields from “astrobiology to zoology and everything in between.”