after i wanted to be neil armstrong, i wanted to be sally ride. in the apollo days i never thought there would be a sally ride, certainly never thought that women would be allowed to have a place in the space program.
if i had thought in the time of armstrong that there would ever be the day of sally ride, i might have tried to work toward it in school. (i was never as smart as sally ride, especially in science, and was an unfortunate victim of stupid catholic science) but i vividly remember loving everything nasa and wanting to be a part of the space program. (flight director would have been my real goal)
the space program caught my every interest from the very beginning. i was too young to actually remember the mercury program, only what i read much later. i remember some of gemini, especially the astronauts. apollo was the holy grail for me. i read everything apollo i could get my hands on, watched every minute of coverage of every mission.
like everyone else, i vividly remember the stunning moment of the first moon landing and the first moon walk. (the real one, not the one staged in a hollywood studio *wink*) i stood outside and stared at the moon, imagining them up there, imagining what would come next, imagining what it all meant.
i also remember being acutely aware that at every console in mission control sat a man. that every astronaut was male. every flight director was male. that every photo of every person who worked on every one of those missions was not like me. every person who reported on the missions was male. space was not for girls. science was not for girls. flight was not for girls.
sometimes those powerful visuals change your outlook and change what you think might be possible for your world. i wonder how many potential sally rides there were in all those years who saw a world that deliberately excluded them and simply moved on to something else.
yet, there still was a sally ride. she was born five years before me. she saw all the same pictures, knew all the same facts, but studied what she loved anyway. she did what she wanted anyway. she answered an ad for applicants interested in working with the space program anyway.
women didn’t even get the right to vote in this country until 1920. the first astronauts were chosen for the space program in 1959. sally ride rode into space on the space shuttle challenger on june 18, 1983. since then, 42 other american women have flown into space. a lot of people quickly walk through a door once its opened. maybe that’s why sometimes they’re nailed shut.
kudos to sally ride for being the first woman in space. bigger kudos to sally ride always having the courage and determination to follow her dreams.