Sally Ride, first American woman in space, featured on new US quarter

Sally Ride astronaut coin featured

The US Mint announced the five designs for 2022 as a part of the new American Women Quarters program. Among those featured on the new quarters is Astronaut Sally Ride, the first American woman in space.

Sally Ride, the first American woman in space

Sally Ride was an astronaut and physicist. In 1978, Sally Ride was accepted as part of astronaut group 8, the first group to accept women. On June 18, 1983, she became the first American woman in space. This was over 20 years after the first woman in space, Valentina Tereshkova, flew to space with the Soviet Vostok program.

Sally Ride’s first spaceflight was STS-7 on Space Shuttle Challenger, which took flight from LC-39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. She was a mission specialist on the mission. The mission included the deployment of communications satellites and the first shuttle pallet satellite. This satellite bus was designed to be deployed and then retrieved following the completion of experiments. Part of Ride’s job on the mission was to operate the robotic arms to deploy and retrieve the shuttle pallet satellite.

After nearly 100 orbits, the six-day mission was completed with Space Shuttle Challenger touching down at Edwards Air Force Base. Sally Ride went on to fly again on STS-41-G, also on Space Shuttle Challenger. On this flight, Ride was joined by Kathryn D. Sullivan. This marked the first shuttle mission to include two women on the crew, as well as the first EVA (Extravehicular Activity aka Spacewalk) involving a woman (Sullivan).

Ride would have made another spaceflight, with STS-61-M. Many months into training for the mission, however, the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster occurred. The orbiter was destroyed during launch, and all lives on board were lost.

Sally Ride Left NASA in 1987, going on to be a professor and director of the California Space Institute. In 2012, at the age of 61, she passed away from pancreatic cancer.

Following her death, her obituary revealed she had a partner of 27 years, Tam O’Shaughnessy. Ride, in addition to being the first female astronaut, was the first LGBTQ+ astronaut.

2022 US Mint American Women Quarters

US Mint

This first set of American Woman Quarters for 2022 feature five American women.

  • Maya Angelou – celebrated writer, performer, and social activist
  • Dr. Sally Ride – physicist, astronaut, educator, and first American woman in space
  • Wilma Mankiller – first female principal chief of the Cherokee Nation
  • Nina Otero-Warren – a leader in New Mexico’s suffrage movement and the first female superintendent of Santa Fe public schools
  • Anna May Wong – first Chinese American film star in Hollywood

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