The definitive biography of Sally Ride, America’s first woman in space, with exclusive insights from Ride’s family and partner, by the ABC reporter who covered NASA during its transformation from a test-pilot boys’ club to a more inclusive elite.
Sally Ride made history as the first American woman in space. A member of the first astronaut class to include women, she broke through a quarter-century of white male fighter jocks when NASA chose her for the seventh shuttle mission, cracking the celestial ceiling and inspiring several generations of women.
After a second flight, Ride served on the panels investigating the Challenger explosion and the Columbia disintegration that killed all aboard. In both instances she faulted NASA’s rush to meet mission deadlines and its organizational failures. She cofounded a company promoting science and education for children, especially girls.
Sherr also writes about Ride’s scrupulously guarded personal life—she kept her sexual orientation private—with exclusive access to Ride’s partner, her former husband, her family, and countless friends and colleagues. Sherr draws from Ride’s diaries, files, and letters. This is a rich biography of a fascinating woman whose life intersected with revolutionary social and scientific changes in America. Sherr’s revealing portrait is warm and admiring but unsparing. It makes this extraordinarily talented and bold woman, an inspiration to millions, come alive.
When astronaut Dr. Sally Ride died in 2012, the woman who was once the most famous person in the world, shocked many when her obituary revealed that she was survived by her female partner of nearly three decades. Journalist Sherr, a longtime friend of Ride, gets behind the walls of the very guarded and private pioneer in this engrossing biography. Ride's trajectory may have been entirely different if the former top-ranked 1968 college tennis player in the East had pursued the game professionally. But when NASA began recruiting women and minorities in 1976, Ride, who had been the only female student in her undergraduate physics class, beat out 8,000 others to get her spot. It was a heady and historic time, although not without an abundance of sexist and clueless ideas both from NASA (the engineers asking Ride if 100 tampons for a week in space was sufficient) and the press (a reporter infamously asked if she wept when angry). Level-headed and possessed of an optimistic live-in-the-moment attitude, she skillfully navigated such public moments and kept the personal locked away out of view. In the end, Sherr provides a window into one of the most fascinating figures of the 20th century.