Sally Kristen Ride is an American physicist and a former NASA astronaut. Ride joined NASA in 1978, and in 1983 became the first American woman—and then-youngest American, at 32—to enter space.
“The fact that I was going to be the first American woman to go into space carried huge expectations along with it,” said Ride. “And that was made pretty clear the day that I was told I was selected as a crew. I was taken up to Chris Kraft’s office. He wanted to have a chat with me and make sure I knew what I was getting into before I went on the crew. I was so dazzled to be on the crew and go into space I remembered very little of what he said.”
Ride joined NASA as part of the 1978 astronaut class, the first class to include women. Ride and five other women were selected out of 8,000 applicants, 1,500 of which were female. Twenty-nine men also were selected. The class became known as the “Thirty-Five New Guys” and reported to the Johnson Space Center the next summer to begin training. Ride would train for five years before she and three of her classmates were assigned to STS-7.