Astronaut Sally Ride

On June 18, 1983, Sally Ride joined the ranks of the world's space pioneers when she became the first American woman to orbit the Earth.

After her six-day mission aboard the space shuttle Challenger and a second trip a year later, Ms. Ride was a global celebrity. Requests for product endorsements came in tidal waves, and references to Ride appeared across the pop-culture spectrum.

NASA had scheduled her for a third ride on Challenger. But after the shuttle's crash in 1986, Ride spent her last years with NASA investigating the accident and working on NASA's future.

Ride's career has moved from stellar regions to the ivory tower. She's now a physics professor at the University of California, San Diego, where she teaches and directs research on the use of technology in space. She's on sabbatical this year and was unavailable for an interview.

Ride has written two books for children, "To Space and Back" (1986) and "Voyager" (1992). Her latest book, her second for grown-ups, is "The Mystery of Mars" (1999).

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