At 32, Sally Ride became the first American woman and youngest American to go into space. She made numerous contributions to the fields of science and space exploration, including helping to develop the space shuttle’s robot arm.
She beat out 1,000 applicants and completed NASA’s rigourous training program for the opportunity to become an astronaut and had to deal with sexist reporters asking questions about how the flight would affect her “reproductive organs” and if she cried when things went wrong.
Ride stressed the importance of role models in the sciences to attain gender equality in those fields. She developed programs and wrote children’s books to get young girls to learn about science and space. While it was not made public until after her death, she was also the first known LGBT astronaut. Her 27 year long relationship with Tam O’Shaunhessy was not made public until her obituary.