Sally Ride aboard the Shuttle Challenger
On June 18, 1983 Sally Ride became the first American woman in space when she blasted off from Cape Canaveral on board the Space Shuttle Challenger. She was 32 at the time, which also made her the youngest American ever to go into space.

Born in Encino California in 1951 she became a nationally ranked tennis player before shifting her focus to physics, a field in which she earned a PhD. Her astronaut career began inauspiciously when she answered an ad NASA had placed in the newspaper looking for people to join the space program. Chosen out of 8,000 applicants she joined NASA in 1978. In addition to her 1983 flight she returned to space in 1984 and was in training for a third space flight when the Challenger disaster brought the Shuttle program to a halt in 1986. She served on the Presidential commission that investigated that accident and later also served on the commission that investigated the breakup of the Shuttle Columbia in 2003.

She is currently head of Sally Ride Science a company that creates science programs and publications for teenagers in order to promote their interest in science.