On this day in 1983, the space shuttle Challenger is launched into space on its second mission. On board the shuttle is Dr. Sally K. Ride, who as a mission specialist, becomes the first American woman to travel into space.
Ride, who had earlier pursued a professional tennis career, answered a newspaper ad in 1977 from NASA calling for young tech-savvy scientists who could work as mission specialists.
“I was one of a couple of astronauts that became heavily involved in the simulator work to verify that the simulators accurately modeled the arm: to develop procedures for using the arm in orbit, to develop the malfunction procedures so astronauts would know what to do if something went wrong,” Ride told the NASA Johnson Space Center’s Oral History Project in 2002. “There weren’t any checklists when we started; we developed them all.”
The mission, NASA’s seventh, ended June 24, 1983, when the Challenger returned to Earth, and, coincidentally, took place on roughly the 20th anniversary of the history-making launch of Soviet cosmonaut Valentina V. Tereshkova’s flight as the first woman in space on June 16, 1963.
Ride again made history when she became the first American woman to fly to space a second time on October 5, 1984, on shuttle mission STS-41G, where she was part of a seven-member crew that spent eight days in space.
Via History Channel