Dr. Sally Kristen Ride (born May 26, 1951) 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—to enter space. In 1987 she left NASA to work at Stanford University's Center for International Security and Arms Control.
The eldest child of Carol Joyce (née Anderson) and Dale Burdell Ride, Sally was born in Encino, part of Los Angeles, California, Of Norwegian ancestry, she has a sister named Karen "Bearful" Ride, who is a Presbyterian minister. Ride attended Portola Middle School and Westlake School for Girls in Los Angeles (now Harvard-Westlake School) on a scholarship. In addition to being interested in science, she was a nationally ranked tennis player. Ride attended Swarthmore College and then transferred to Stanford University, graduating with a bachelor's degree in English and physics. Also at Stanford, she earned a master's degree and a Ph.D. in physics, while doing research in astrophysics and free electron laser physics.
Ride was one of 8,000 people to answer an advertisement in a newspaper seeking applicants for the space program. As a result, she joined NASA in 1978. During