Sally Ride Day

Sally Ride Day is observed next on Sunday, May 26th, 2024 (35 days from today).

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History of Sally Ride Day

The first American woman in space, Sally Ride, is a role model for young people, especially for girls and those interested in science and space. At the time of her maiden flight, Ride was also the youngest astronaut to have ever traveled in space, aged just 32. It is unclear who started Sally Ride Day, which honors Ride and takes place on the anniversary to celebrate her birthday, but it has been observed since at least 2003, nine years before Ride's death.

Sally Ride was born on May 26th, 1951 and her birth place was Los Angeles. She earned a bachelor's degree in English and physics from Stanford University in 1973, and continued her studies there, earning a master's degree in physics in 1975 and a degree in physics in 1978 after work on the intersection of X-rays and the interstellar medium. While studying at Stanford, she enrolled in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) astronaut program and became one of 35 people selected out of 8,000 applicants. Her cohort was designated NASA Astronaut Team 8 and included NASA's first six female astronauts. After completing her training in 1979, Ride worked as a ground communications officer (CapCom) on the second and third flights of the Space Shuttle Columbia, in 1981 and 1982, also working on developing the space shuttle's robotic arm.

Sally Ride became the first American woman in space on June 18th, 1983, when she flew on the space shuttle Challenger as part of its second mission, STS-7. The space shuttle launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and spent a week in orbit. The purpose of the mission is to deploy and test satellites. Ride is a mission specialist and one of her missions is to maneuver the first space shuttle pallet satellite, SPAS-1, by operating a robotic arm. Ride again went into space on the Challenger in 1984, as part of the STS-41-G mission. It was scheduled to make a flight on the third Challenger mission in June 1986, but it has been canceled since the space shuttle exploded in January.

After retiring from NASA in 1987, Ride spent most of her time encouraging girls and women to pursue math and science. She became director of the California Space Institute and a professor of physics at the University of California at San Diego. In 1996, she started Sally Ride EarthKAM, which allows students to take digital images of Earth with cameras on the International Space Station. In 2001, she started the nonprofit Sally Ride Science, which promotes STEM literacy and aims to inspire young people's interest in science, technology, engineering, and math.

Ride served on the accident investigation committee organized after the explosions of the Space Shuttle Challenger and Columbia, was inducted into the US Astronaut Hall of Fame in 2003, co-wrote several children's books about space with her partner, Tam O' Shaughnessy, and in 2009 joined the Augustine Commission, the body that works to define spaceflight plans in the United States. On July 23rd, 2012, she died of pancreatic cancer. Ride was later awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is printed on USPS postage stamps and features a Navy research ship. United States Army is named after her. In addition to these honors, we continue to honor Sally Ride each year with Sally Ride Day.

How to celebrate Sally Ride Day

  • Watch footage of Sally Ride's first mission into space.
  • Visit the Kennedy Space Center.
  • Visit Sally Ride's grave.
  • Read biographies about Sally Ride such as Lynn Sherr's Sally Ride: America First Woman in Space or Tam O'Shaughnessy's Sally Ride: A Photobiography of America Pioneering Woman in Space.
  • Read to Space and back to get some interesting things about Sally Ride travel into space.
  • Read a children's book of Sally Ride and Tam O'Shaughnessy.
  • Watch and listen the answer of Sally Ride at the 2009 White House Astronomy Night.
  • Watch Sally Ride's "Shoot for the Stars" video lecture.
  • Try to find more Sally Ride Science and Sally Ride Earth.
  • Encourage young people to pursue science and math and become astronauts.
  • Set yourself on the path to becoming an astronaut.
  • Read current space news.


Sally Ride Day has been observed annually on May 26th.


Thursday, May 26th, 2022

Friday, May 26th, 2023

Sunday, May 26th, 2024

Monday, May 26th, 2025

Tuesday, May 26th, 2026

Also on Sunday, May 26th, 2024

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