|MadSci Network: Science History|
Hi Eddie! That is a great question, and sorry it's taken so long to get back to you... Dr. Sally Ride accomplished a lot of important things while she was working for NASA, but she was not in fact, the first woman to pilot the space shuttle. Dr. Ride was a mission specialist for the Challenger STS-7 mission and became the first American woman in space. A mission specialist is one of the scientists and engineers that undergo extensive training to conduct experiments, put objects into orbit, or do maintenance or service on objects already in space. The pilot for that mission was Frederick H. Hauck. Dr. Ride went up again for Challenger STS-41-G which also included Kathryn D. Sullivan, the first American woman to walk in space. Both missions were commanded by Robert L. Crippen. The first woman space shuttle pilot was United States Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Eileen Collins, aboard the Columbia, in Spring, 1999. If you would like to write to Dr. Sally Ride, you can send a letter with a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: Dr. Sally Ride Director California Space Institute University of California at San Diego La Jolla, CA 92093 If you would like to know more about women in NASA, please visit Women of NASA page and see how many outstanding women have contributed to the space program. Hope this helps! Jeff Yap Mad Scientist
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