President Barack Obama has posthumously awarded fomer astronaut and first US female in orbit, Dr. Sally Ride, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The award is the highest US civilian honour that can been bestowed.
Ride made her first flight in 1983 on STS-07 and few again a year later on STS-43L (both on the Space Shuttle Challenger). In 1986, Ride served on the Rogers Commission investigating the STS-51L Challenger accident. She was instrumental in making sure that hidden details of the Solid Rocket Booster ”O” ring test failures in cold temperatures reached other members of the panel including Physicist Richard Feynman. This factor was later cited as the principal cause of the failure.
Dr. Sally Ride on STS-07 in June 1983. Courtesy: NASA
Ride’s Space Shuttle truth-teller/whistleblower role came out only after her death in 2012. Likewise, it was only then that it was publicly revealed that Ride had been in a same-sex relationship since the breakdown of her marriage. Having left NASA in 1987, as a physics graduate and as an educator she later devoted her life to encouraging girls to get a scientific education. It was only after her death in 2012 that it was revealed that Ride had been in a same-sex relationship since the breakdown of her marriage.
President Obama said, “We remember Sally Ride not just as a national hero, but as a role model to generations of young women. Sally inspired us to reach for the stars, and she advocated for a greater focus on the science, technology, engineering and math that would help us get there. Sally showed us that there are no limits to what we can achieve, and I look forward to welcoming her family to the White House as we celebrate her life and legacy.”