Sally Ride, first American woman in space, saluted in Google Doodle

Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, was saluted in a Google Doodle on Tuesday, on what would have been her 64th birthday.

Tireless advocate inspired girls to study STEM fields; was also the youngest astronaut ever at age 32

A still image from Tuesday's Google Doodle, which celebrates astronaut Sally Ride, on what would have been her 64th birthday. (Olivia Huynh/Google)

Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, was saluted in a Google Doodle on Tuesday, on what would have been her 64th birthday.

Ride was part of the space shuttle Challenger's crew on mission STS-7 on June 18, 1983. She was the first female astronaut on a NASA mission, and at the age of 32 became the youngest person, male or female, to go into space — a record that stands to this day.

Ride was born on May 26, 1951 in Los Angeles. She died in 2012 of pancreatic cancer.

Today's Google Doodle actually consists of five animated gifs illustrating a series of scenes from her life and career. 

Google also put together a short biographical video, narrated by artist Olivia Huynh, who tracks Ride's progress from a budding professional tennis player, to an astronaut with several space flights under her belt, to a tireless advocate promoting the wonder of science, space, and especially education for young girls.

"I hope I've been able to capture some of the wonder that Sally must have felt up there, floating free above it all," said Huynh.

Ride's life partner Tam O'Shaughnessy wrote the accompanying blog post on Google, saying she "captured the nation's imagination as a symbol of the ability of women to break barriers."

After Ride retired from NASA, she co-founded Sally Ride Science with O'Shaughnessy and three others in 2001. The organization works to educate and inspire young girls with an interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields.

"Studies show that the reason kids turn away from STEM is not that they don't like it or aren't good it. Instead, young people get turned off because society sends false messages about who scientists are, what they do, and how they work," wrote O'Shaughnessy. "So Sally decided to use her high profile to motivate young people to stick with their interest in science and to consider pursuing STEM careers."

Former astronauts Marc Garneau (who flew with Ride in 1984) and Chris Hadfield tweeted their tributes to Ride, along with many other fans of her work both in and out of the Earth's thermosphere.


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