Monday, July 23, 2012

DEFINITELY AN E-TICKET: Dr. Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, has died after a 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer. There are, of course, many things to admire about such a woman. First, of course, she was a fucking astronaut. I don't care how routine space flight is or may or some day become. Astronaut = Awesome. Second, of course, the competition simply was too fierce for the initial class of shuttle astronauts to have allowed for anything but inherently well qualified folks. Sure, NASA was going to have women and African-Americans in the class of 1978, but those folks, as a class, probably needed to be better than their peers. But in all the interviews I ever read with her, she didn't much care about any of that, not at least on her on behalf. She got to do something cool and she thought that she might inspire another girl along the way to do something cool as well. And that's a life well lived. (Also, fucking astronaut.) Is her impact any greater than Shannon Lucid or Kathryn Sullivan or any of her peers in that class? Maybe not. But she was the first.


  1. Lou W6:03 PM

    I agree that what I remember most from any interview I read or saw with Sally Ride was how much fun she found science, and how cool she thought it was to have been an Astronaut.  Her enthusiasm and talent for communicating about science must have had a large impact, especially on many children.

    As an aside, her obituary makes it clear that she was gay (referencing her long-time partner), which is not something I remember hearing before <...> a quick google search makes it appear it was not widely known.  I wonder if this news will be a major factor in remembrances, or if it will be downplayed.  Usually I'd hope for the latter, but because I'm not sure if there are any openly LGB Astronauts, it may deserve more publicity.

  2. Renee6:07 PM

    I did a report on her in middle school and I've loved her since.  This makes me so sad.

  3. The Pathetic Earthling6:22 PM

    Although she was married to astronaut Steve Hawley for a while, so that part of her life may be somewhat refractive to a clear narrative.

  4. sconstant6:24 PM

    Is her impact any greater than Shannon Lucid or Kathryn Sullivan or any of her peers in that class? Maybe not.

    Her name is certainly more well known (both because she was first and because it's a memorable name.)

  5. Yeah, I didn't know that either.

    Also, she got the rare "deeply saddened" in the WH statement.

    Also, when I met Guy Bluford in December, that was my reaction: "holy fucking shit, this guy's an astronaut."

  6. The Pathetic Earthling6:36 PM

    My Dad knows -- and I've met -- James Van Hoften, who was also part of this class of 1978.  Same reaction.  And you know me.  (My entire internal monologue was:  "Remember... that time... you went to space...  THAT.  WAS.  AWESOME!!").

  7. Maret8:39 PM

    She did a couple author events when I worked in the bookstore and she was amazing. So genuine, so kind and so excited. And while she was nice to the "astronaut groupies" as we referred to the guys who showed up at any astronaut event with moon rocks for signatures, she was devoted to the kids, especially the girls. Questions were limited to kids only (and these books were for kids, so that seemed a fair restriction) and she never wanted them to stop. Each child that came up to get their books signed got talked to like an equal, and encouraged to experiment, to love science, and to be excited about learning. She was amazing to watch.

  8. Renee9:30 PM

    Not going to lie -- totally teared up reading this. 

  9. Heather K12:05 AM

    I met Dr. Ellen Ochoa with a bunch of middle school students, and I was their teacher at that moment, and I literally hopped up and down when she walked into the room.  SHE HAD BEEN TO OUTER SPACE!!  And there she was in front of me.  She was very nice, but I also met her in a classroom in the brand new Ellen Ochoa Middle School, so she may have been pretty pumped herself that day.

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