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Sally Ride Day: Celebrating an American Pioneer

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Today is the day to celebrate the first woman to go into space! 

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May 26 is Sally Ride Day, an opportunity to honor one of the most influential women in American history.

Ride became the first American woman in space in 1983 when she was a member of the Challenger crew. She would undertake another space flight in 1984 and was preparing for a third before the challenger disaster struck. She continued to work for NASA as a strategic planner until 1987, when she left to work at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Arms Control.  In 1989, she became a physics professor at the University of California, San Diego, a position she held until her death in 2012.

Ride was able to ascend to the greatest heights in a male dominated field at a young age (at 32, she was the youngest American ever to visit outer space).  Her accomplishments as an astronaut and a physicist are impossible to look past.  She is a member of the Astronaut Hall of Fame and a two time recipient of the NASA Space Flight Medal.  In 2013, she was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.

Even after her untimely death a few years ago, Ride’s legacy lives on through Sally Ride science, a non-profit organization that promotes STEM education.  While she was hardly the first woman to rise to prominence in a predominately male field, Ride is still a pioneer.  Women are becoming more and more involved in STEM fields and Ride’s influence went a long way towards that.  Women are more prominent in business and politics than ever before and many of these trail blazers look to women like Ride for inspiration.   Ride was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame, which honors distinguished American women in all fields.

How is Sally Ride's impact still being felt today?  Are there any women you would like to recognize as pioneers in their field?  Let us know in the comments.