American Astronaut. Ride made history in 1983 as a crew member on the space shuttle Challenger, breaking the gender barrier for U.S. spaceflight as the first American woman to go into space. She made a second space shuttle flight in 1984, also aboard Challenger, and was in training for her third mission when Challenger exploded in 1986, killing all seven crew members. She left the space agency a year later and served for years as a physics professor and director of the California Space Institute. In 2001, she founded Sally Ride Science, which is aimed at promoting math and science for girls. One of the foundations most successful projects was to develop a camera that could fly aboard spacecraft and take pictures for middle-school students. Ride was the only person to serve on both of the investigative boards for NASA's two shuttle tragedies, the Challenger explosion as well as the 2003 loss of Columbia and its crew. She was also a member of the commission that laid out space policy options for the Obama administration in 2009. That panel's conclusions led the White House to cancel a plan to send astronauts back to the moon, known as the Constellation program, and instead set the nation's sights on exploring near-Earth asteroids, leading eventually to missions to Mars. Ride died after a 17-month battle against pancreatic cancer.
Bio by: Louis du Mort