The first American woman in space, Sally Ride, is the subject of serious and playful memorials today, 35 years after her historic flight and nearly six years after her death.
Blue Origin, the space venture founded by Amazon millionaire Jeff Bezos, marked today’s anniversary by showing off a Lego set that flew to space and back on the company’s New Shepard suborbital spaceship:
35 years ago today, Sally Ride became the first American woman in space. To honor the #WomenOfNASA past and present who drive exploration forward, we sent these #LEGO Minifigures to space on #NewShepard and returned them to play. pic.twitter.com/UqZvGwXJQa
— Blue Origin (@blueorigin) June 18, 2018
In addition to Ride, the space-flown toy set included minifigs representing Mae Jemison, the first black woman astronaut to go into orbit; Margaret Hamilton, who developed the onboard flight software for the Apollo missions; and Nancy Grace Roman, known as the “Mother of Hubble” for her role in planning the Hubble Space Telescope.
A shiny New Shepard crew capsule, outfitted with moody-blue interior lights and festooned with a feather on its exterior, served as the backdrop for Blue Origin’s tweeted picture. Blue Origin has conducted eight uncrewed test flights of its fully reusable New Shepard spaceship, and is aiming to start flying people by the end of this year.
Blue Origin wasn’t the only outfit commemorating the spaceflying scientist’s achievements. Here’s a selection of Twitter tributes:
On this day in @NASAhistory, Sally Ride became the first American woman in space in 1983. Read more about her journey & how she paved the way for future generations of women in space: https://t.co/Xo54vTqrYw pic.twitter.com/Pnw0t8UHB6
— NASA (@NASA) June 18, 2018
#otd in 1983, #sallyride blasted off aboard shuttle Challenger to become 1st American woman in space. She flew on Challenger again in 1984. When Challenger exploded after liftoff in 1986, Ride served on presidential commission probing the disaster. https://t.co/Ls3V81fCr9 #NASA pic.twitter.com/Ej5EZE45pz
— SRS @ UCSD (@SallyRideSci) June 18, 2018
Happy space-iversary, Sally Ride —35 years ago, you made history and inspired millions of young women, including me. 10 years ago, we got to celebrate the 25th anniversary of your flight while I was at @NASAGoddard. It was a thrill for me to host you, and for this young woman! pic.twitter.com/ThTEwYH3Zx
— Laurie Leshin (@LaurieofMars) June 18, 2018
Sally Ride's legacy lives on through the @EarthKAM_Live aboard the @Space_Station. Learn more about how Sally's passion for engaging students in STEM fields led to this opportunity for them to take pictures from space! https://t.co/kQK2zqPBeG pic.twitter.com/4QOP0dX7TL
— ISS Research (@ISS_Research) June 18, 2018
Today marks the 35th anniversary of former @ucsandiego professor & @NASA astronaut, Sally Ride's, historic orbit. Ride was the first American woman to fly into space and was part of NASA's 1978 class of women astronauts—A few also had ties to @ucberkeley, @ucsc and @ucla! ??? pic.twitter.com/xldktrTNBF
— UC (@UofCalifornia) June 18, 2018
— USPS Help (@USPSHelp) June 12, 2018
Ride’s launch came on June 18, 1983, aboard the space shuttle Challenger, and flew again on the same shuttle a year later. When Challenger and its crew were lost in an explosion in 1986, Ride served on the investigation board for the accident.
Ride left NASA in 1987, became a physics professor at the University of California at San Diego and eventually co-founded Sally Ride Science, a nonprofit organization focusing on science education for girls.
She also kept up ties with NASA through the space agency’s tragedies and transitions: In 2003, she was on the accident investigation board for the Columbia tragedy, and in 2009, she served on a presidential commission that reviewed NASA’s vision for human spaceflight.
Ride died in 2012 at the age of 61 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
Today’s anniversary of Sally Ride’s first spaceflight isn’t this month’s only milestone in the history of spacefaring women. Saturday marked exactly 55 years since Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova was launched into orbit as the first woman in space.
Tereshkova is now 81 and serves as a deputy in the State Duma, the lower house of Russia’s parliament. Over the weekend, she received in-person congratulations from Russian President Vladimir Putin — and what sounded like an extraordinary offer, even if it was meant in jest:
Putin: “Ms. Tereshkova, please accept my sincere congratulations on this anniversary – 55 years of your spaceflight.”
Tereshkova: “Thank you very much. It is unbelievable how much time has elapsed!”
Putin: “I would like to say in this regard that you are not only the world’s first female cosmonaut, I think you remain the only female cosmonaut and astronaut who has made a solo flight: All the other women were crew members.”
Tereshkova: “Could I also be a crew member so as to explore all the possibilities?”
Putin: “Would you like to make another flight?”