Sally Ride Day Commemorates the First U.S. Woman Astronaut!

May 26 is Sally Ride Day! The unofficial holiday celebrates the life of Sally Ride, the first American woman to go into space when she was 32 years old. To this day, she remains the youngest American astronaut ever to go to space! Her birthday was May 26.

May 26 is Sally Ride Day!

Sally Ride was known for being an astronaut, but while she was a student at Stanford in the 70s, she also played tennis, becoming the number one women's singles player. She got bachelor's degrees in physics AND English (specializing in Shakespeare) in 1973. In 1875 she got a master's degree in physics, and in 1978 got a Ph.D. in astrophysics.

She was still studying at Stanford when she saw an ad from NASA in the New York Times. She realized that she fit all of the qualifications to be an astronaut, so she applied to the job, and got it!

"The women's movement had already paved the way, I think, for my coming," she said.

Before Dr. Ride, only two women had ever been to space. They were Soviet cosmonauts.

Sally Ride leaves the shuttle to adjust equipment

During her time as an astronaut and on NASA investigation boards, she inspired girls everywhere, helping them to realize that they, too, could be an astronaut.

The day after Dr. Ride's return from space, Ms. magazine editor Gloria Steinem wrote, "Millions of little girls are going to sit by their television sets and see they can be astronauts, heroes, explorers and scientists."

Ride also wrote children's books encouraging kids to study science. She passed away last year at the age of 61.