Pride Sally Pride
Sally Ride, the first U.S. woman to travel into space died on Monday after a battle with pancreatic cancer. She was 61. In 1983, at the age of 32 she and four male crewmates blasted off aboard space shuttle Challenger. “The fact that I was going to be the first American woman to go into space carried huge expectations along with it,” Ride recalled in a 2008 interview on the 25th anniversary of her flight. “I didn’t really think about it that much at the time — but I came to appreciate what an honor it was to be selected,” she said.
U.S. President Barack Obama called Ride “a national hero and a powerful role model.” In a statement, he said Ride “inspired generations of young girls to reach for the stars.” By the time Sally returned for a second flight in 1984, not only had another female astronaut, Judith Resnik, flown on the shuttle, but Ride had a female crewmate, Kathryn Sullivan. Also on that flight was Canada’s first astronaut Marc Garneau. I spoke with Marc about Sally on the show today, you can listen to the interview on the player below the picture.
Since Sally’s first flight, more than 45 women from the United States and other countries have flown in space, including two Canadian women, Roberta Bondar and Julie Payette. Two women have also flown as shuttle commander.
Sally Ride is survived by her mother; her partner, Tam O’Shaughnessy; a sister; a niece and a nephew.
It was with that subtle reference to her partner on her own website that it was known that Sally was not only the first American woman in space but that she was also the first lesbian. Ms. Ride’s sister, Bear Ride, confirmed the announcement today. Why did Ms. Ride wait to make this posthumous announcement? Her sister, who is also gay suggested that she felt there were other issues she could fight for. "That [LGBT rights] wasn't her battle of choice -- the battle of choice was science education for kids,” she said “And I just hope that all the different components of Sally's life go towards helping kids."
The Globe and Mail asked readers on-line if this personal revelation will change Dr. Ride's legacy? It shouldn't and if the calls to the show today were any indication it won't.