Sally Ride Lesson for Kids: Biography & Facts

Instructor: Diane Sieverson

Diane has taught all subjects at the elementary level, was the principal of a K-8 private school and has a master's degree in Measurement and Evaluation.

Sally Ride was the first American female astronaut. This lesson will teach you about Sally Ride, how she became an astronaut, what she did in space, and some other neat facts about this amazing woman.

Who was Sally Ride?

Sally Kristen Ride was born in Los Angeles, California, on May 26, 1951. Her father, Dale, was a professor and her mother, Carol Joyce, volunteered as a counselor for women in jail. Sally also had a younger sister named Karen.

When Sally was nine, her whole family went on a trip to Europe where they explored and traveled for a year. Like her family, she was adventurous and knew education was important, which would eventually lead her into space when she grew up.

Tennis, Science, and NASA

Besides being an excellent student, Sally liked sports and was a great tennis player during high school and college. She even had a chance at becoming a professional tennis player, but decided to focus on physics, which is the scientific study of matter and energy and how they affect each other.

Sally graduated from Stanford University in 1973 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics and a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. She was most interested in science, so she went back to Stanford and earned her master's and doctorate degrees in physics.

Sally Ride
Astronaut Sally Ride

A National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) advertisement in the student newspaper changed her life forever. NASA was looking for astronauts, so Sally applied. Out of 8,000 people who wanted that job, she was one of the first six women ever who was accepted. Until that time, only men had been astronauts in America.

Astronaut Sally Ride

In 1978, Sally started training to be an astronaut and fly in space. NASA was also working on the space shuttle program that would fly missions, conduct experiments in space, and help build the International Space Station (ISS), which is an orbiting laboratory where astronauts from different countries live and conduct experiments.

Space shuttles were the first reusable space vehicles that carried people and materials into space and back, and there were five of them.

Space Shuttle
Space Shuttle

Sally worked on the ground crew of the second and third shuttle flights in 1981 and 1982, but her turn in space was coming.

Sally Ride on the Shuttle
Sally Ride on the Shuttle

In 1983, Sally became famous for being both the first American woman and the youngest person to fly in space! She controlled the robotic arm of the space shuttle and sent satellites into orbit. She flew a second shuttle mission in 1984.

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