When I was a kid, I had a Styrofoam space helmet and a little space outfit. I had a blast with it in the huge freezer size cardboard box that I decorated like a space capsule. My imagination was incredible and I could travel the universe in that cardboard box. I wanted to be an astronaut but of course, I was a girl so that was not going to happen. Sally Ride proved us all wrong as she was the first female launched into space and as we bid her farewell, and as the lyrics of Mustang Sally run through my head “ride Sally ride”
it got me thinking…
I was always fascinated by space travel. I was a young kid, but I knew there was a lot of space out there and I always knew there was something out there besides us. Though the memory is vague, I do remember when Kennedy was in office there was an awful big race for space.
I can recall as a kid watching the rockets take off. So much smoke, and rumbling, I could almost feel the vibration through the TV. I would watch early as the space capsule landed in the ocean and ships would retrieve the passengers from the tiny capsule. I do recall how devastated I was in 1967 when three astronauts died at take off. It did not stop me from wanting to become an astronaut and I continued to study books, and watch TV shows about space.
In 1968 on Christmas day Apollo 8 did a lunar orbit of the moon. My mother had gotten me a model of one of the Apollo spaceships and it had to be one of the best gifts I got that year, not the model, but watching it on TV. Of course, who wasn’t glued to their TV in 1969 when Apollo 11 landed on the moon? It was unreal. I kept thinking I was watching a TV show and none of it was real. Neil Armstrong’s voice rang out, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Watching it live as it happened was probably the biggest historical event in my childhood. We landed on the moon.
I never figured out why we stopped going to the moon, and by then, I was grown up and no longer wanted to be an astronaut. Times changed, capsules don’t splashdown in the ocean with massive parachutes. In 1972, the first space shuttle took off. It took off like a rocket and landed like a plane. It changed the space program, no longer was there a small capsule that would land in the ocean but rather a plane like vehicle that would fly through space and do so much more.
In 1983, history in space would change again as Sally Ride became the first woman in space and made space travel equal. She changed the face of the space program. She proved women can do anything and became a role model that women could reach for the moon and the stars. She proved to herself and to the world that there were no limits for women. She died yesterday of pancreatic cancer.
As much as I will remember the space program, I will remember Sally Ride and all she did for not only the space program and science, but for women. So as the Chamber Brothers, or Wilson Pickett, or the Kingsmen, or the Rascals, or the host of others who sang Mustang Sally, Remember Sally Ride, “All you have to do is Ride Sally Ride”.