Who was the first American woman in space?
Out of 8,000 applicants, Sally Ride became one of 35 people (and just six women) selected for NASA’s astronaut class of 1978. For the second and third space shuttle missions, Sally served as the ground-based capsule communicator. She was then chosen as a member of the (STS-7) mission. When the Challenger space shuttle launched on June 18, 1983, Sally became the first woman from the U.S. to reach space. In October 1984, she took part in a second shuttle mission (STS-41G). Source: NASA
Sally Kristen Ride (May 26, 1951 – July 23, 2012) was an American physicist and astronaut. Born in Los Angeles, she joined NASA in 1978 and became the first American woman in space in 1983. Ride was the third woman in space overall, after USSR cosmonauts Valentina Tereshkova (1963) and Svetlana Savitskaya (1982). Ride remains the youngest American astronaut to have traveled to space, having done so at the age of 32.
After flying twice on the Orbiter Challenger, she left NASA in 1987. She worked for two years at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Arms Control, then at the University of California, San Diego as a professor of physics, primarily researching nonlinear optics and Thomson scattering. She served on the committees that investigated the Challenger and Columbia space shuttle disasters, the only person to participate in both. Ride died of pancreatic cancer on July 23, 2012.