The news of Sally Ride passing was something that hit me harder than I expected and took me by surprise. It had been a while since I had heard about her.
As a NASA booster and a fan of the space shuttle program since it began, Ride was a hero of mine. (According to Ride’s sister she “hated” labels of every kind, including the word hero.)
Described as a “private” person, Ride kept details about her pancreatic cancer from the public eye. She also chose not to reveal that she was gay. She lived the last 27 years of her life in a same-sex relationship.
Ride is often described as “the first American woman in space.” (A Russian woman named Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space way back in June 1963.) Twenty years later Ride did it aboard the space shuttle Challenger in 1983. (The same shuttle that claimed the lives of seven astronauts just three years later.)
Ride also had a Ph.D. in physics from Stanford University and took that brain into space, logging 14 days, 7 hours and 46 minutes of flight time away from the Earth.
Sadly, Sally Ride was prohibited in this country from marrying the person of her choice. And because she was in a same-sex relationship, Ride’s partner of 27 years is not entitled to death benefits or Social Security payments.
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