A few days ago, Sally Ride, the first female American astronaut, passed away. Maybe you've heard of her. Maybe you haven't. I probably wouldn't have heard of her, except that between the ages of seven and ten, I wanted to be an astronaut. I was given a photo of her and told that she was the first woman in space. That's all I knew about her. Seriously. But that was enough. Coupled with my love of the movie "Space Camp" about a group of kids at Space Camp who actually ended up in space, (FYI: All Star cast on that one! Yikes! Bet those actors are still haunted by that...) I was pretty sure I was going to be an astronaut.
I know for a fact my mom completely supported me on that. Likely she thought space a nice alternative to having me underfoot all the time. Like many childhood dreams, this one fizzled out. I'm a book girl, not a science girl. But, when I heard about the passing of Sally Ride, I was a little saddened about never making it to space. I read a few articles about her and all the amazing things she has done within the space program and through her own company, Sally Ride Science, to encourage young girls to study science and math. What an inspiration! Here are a few nice things I found while reading about her today:
Sally lived her life to the fullest, with boundless energy, curiosity, intelligence, passion, commitment, and love. Her integrity was absolute; her spirit was immeasurable; her approach to life was fearless.
Sally was a physicist, the first American woman to fly in space, a science writer, and the President and CEO of Sally Ride Science. She had the rare ability to understand the essence of things and to inspire those around her to join her pursuits. -Sally Ride Science, Company Statement
Sally was a very private person who found herself a very public persona. It was a role in which she was never fully comfortable. I was privileged to be a part of her life and be in a position to support her as she became the first American woman to fly in space.
While she never enjoyed being a celebrity, she recognized that it gave her the opportunity to encourage children, particularly young girls, to reach their full potential. Sally Ride, the astronaut and the person, allowed many young girls across the world to believe they could achieve anything if they studied and worked hard. I think she would be pleased with that legacy. -Steve Hawley, Former NASA astronaut, ex-husband (married to Ride from 1982 to 1987)
Sally Ride broke barriers with grace and professionalism — and literally changed the face of America's space program. The nation has lost one of its finest leaders, teachers and explorers. Our thoughts and prayers are with Sally's family and the many she inspired. She will be missed, but her star will always shine brightly. -Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator
And while I never made it to space, or Space Camp, or even into the field of Science, I still wanted to take a minute to remember Ms. Ride for being an inspiration to me, before I knew what inspirations were.
This is the same picture I had of her when I was a kid!