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Astronomical achievements

The list: 6 Sally Ride facts you never knew

List Sally Ride
Sally Ride became the first American woman to fly in space when the space shuttle Challenger launched in 1983. Image: NASA

Sally Ride was the first American woman to travel into space, but that wasn’t her only claim to fame. Here are six more fascinating facts about the subject of the Postal Service’s latest stamp.

1. She was a lifelong stamp collector. Ride especially liked stamps that featured the Olympics and space exploration.

2. She had superstar tennis skills. Ride was a nationally ranked player in college and was encouraged by tennis legend Billie Jean King to turn professional. Instead, Ride continued to pursue physics, receiving a doctorate from Stanford University.

3. She was no fan of dumb questions. Before Ride began her historic journey into space in 1983, she was subjected to more than a few chauvinistic questions from reporters. On one occasion, someone asked her if she ever weeps when things go wrong on the job. Her response: “How come nobody ever asks [male astronauts] those questions?”

4. She was offered the chance to lead NASA. President Bill Clinton asked Ride to serve as NASA’s first woman administrator, but she chose to continue her tenure at the University of California San Diego as a physics professor and director of the California Space Institute.

5. She was a STEM education advocate. In 2001, she co-founded Sally Ride Science to create opportunities for students to learn about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Ride also co-authored seven children’s books on scientific themes, including “To Space and Back.”

6. A spot on the moon is named after her. Ride directed public outreach and educational programs for a NASA mission that sent twin satellites to map the moon’s gravity. The Sally K. Ride Impact Site is where the two probes crash-landed after the operation.

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