Continued from page 1

Later in the interview, she focused on science education and talked about “being a role model and being very visible.”

“She was very smart,” said former astronaut Norman Thagard, who was on Ride’s first flight. “We did have a good time.”

It was all work on that first flight, except for a first-in-space sprint around the inside of the shuttle, Thagard recalled in a phone interview Monday. He didn’t know who won.

Born on May 26, 1951, in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley, Ride became fascinated with science early on, playing with a chemistry kit and telescope. She also excelled in tennis and competed in national junior tournaments.

She earned bachelor’s degrees in physics and English from Stanford University in 1973 and a master’s in 1975. She saw an ad in the student newspaper calling for scientists and engineers to apply to become astronauts and was chosen in 1978, the same year she earned her doctorate in physics from Stanford.

Ride was married to fellow astronaut Steve Hawley from 1982 to 1987. Hawley said Ride was never fully comfortable being in the spotlight.

“While she never enjoyed being a celebrity, she recognized that it gave her the opportunity to encourage children, particularly young girls, to reach their full potential,” Hawley said in a statement released by NASA.

One of Ride’s last legacies was allowing middle school students to take their own pictures of the moon using cameras aboard NASA’s twin Grail spacecraft in a project spearheaded by her company.

Sally literally could have done anything with her life. She decided to devote her life to education and to inspiring young people. To me, that’s such a powerful thing. It’s extraordinarily admirable,” said Maria Zuber, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who heads the Grail mission.

Ride’s office said she is survived by Tam O’Shaughnessy, her partner of 27 years and a co-founder of Sally Ride Science; her mother, Joyce; her sister, Bear, a niece; and a nephew.

___

Borenstein reported from Washington and can be followed at http://twitter.com/borenbears. Alicia Chang can be followed at http://www.twitter.com/SciWriAlicia.