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Ride, Sally Ride: Thirty Years Since America's First Woman in Space (Part 1) (1)
By Ben Evans, on June 15th, 2013

As an astronaut and as an ambassador for science and exploration, Sally Ride created a lasting impact on society. Photo Credit: NASA

Next week marks the 30th anniversary of the launch of America’s first woman into space. On 18 June 1983, physicist Dr. Sally Ride rocketed into orbit aboard Challenger and followed in the footsteps of Soviet cosmonauts Valentina Tereshkova and Svetlana Savitskaya as history’s third female spacefarer. Like Tereshkova and Savitskaya, she blazed a trail which is today being continued aboard the International Space Station by NASA’s Karen Nyberg and aboard the Shenzhou-10/Tiangong-1 complex by China’s Wang Yaping. This year, 2013, is truly historic, for it also marks the half-century anniversary of the first woman in space … and there can be no greater tribute to female accomplishments on the final frontier than by a long-term female presence there. Thirty years ago, on STS-7, Sally Ride took the United States’ first tentative steps toward making that presence a reality.

It is bitterly disappointing and intensely tragic that Ride never lived to celebrate the 30th anniversary of her flight, alongside STS-7 crewmates Bob Crippen, Rick Hauck, John Fabian, and Norm Thagard. Her untimely passing in July 2012 from pancreatic cancer removed yet another space pioneer in a desperately sad year which saw four of humanity’s finest taken from us. First there was Janice Voss in February, then Alan Poindexter in July, and, most recently, Neil Armstrong in August.

From the instant that Ride was assigned to STS-7 it was recognized that she would become an American icon. Of Norwegian ancestry, she came from Los Angeles, born on 26 May 1951. In her youth, she aspired to become a professional tennis player and, for a time at Westlake High School, captained the team. After graduation from Westlake she entered Stanford to study physics and English. Whilst there, Billie Jean King watched her play and advised Ride to leave college and turn professional. She rejected King’s advice and continued her studies; it is interesting that, since her astronaut days, Ride has become an outspoken advocate for getting more women involved in science and engineering. She received her degree in 1973, a master’s credential in 1975, and her doctorate in astrophysics and free electron laser physics in 1978, only days—hours, even—before she drove to Houston to commence astronaut training.

Pictured during pre-launch tests in May 1983, Sally Ride (left) is pictured with fellow astronaut Anna Fisher. At the time of writing, Fisher is a NASA management astronaut, but remains the only member of the 1978 class still on active status. Photo Credit: NASA

“I saw an ad in the Stanford University student newspaper … that NASA was accepting applications,” Ride told the agency’s oral historian. “They wanted applications from women, which is presumably the reason the Center for Research on Women [at Stanford] was contacted and the reason they offered to place the ad in the newspaper.” Two weeks after Rick Hauck’s screening, early in October 1977, the 26-year-old Ride was called to Houston as part of another group of 20 candidates. “It was a group I’d never met before,” she said, “and I didn’t meet any of the other 180 who were interviewed. The only ones I met were the ones in my little group of 20. We spent a week going from briefing to briefing, from dinner to medical evaluations, psychological exams, and individual interviews with the astronaut selection committee.”

For Ride, the media attention at becoming one of six female candidates was especially intense. “The impact started before I left for Houston,” she remembered. “There was a lot of attention surrounding the announcement, because not only was it the first astronaut selection in nearly ten years, it was the first time that women were part of a class. There was a lot of press attention surrounding all six of us. Stanford arranged a press conference for me on the day of the announcement! I was a PhD physics student. Press conferences were not a normal part of my day! A lot of newspaper and magazine articles were written, primarily about the women in the group, even before we arrived. The media attention settled down quite a bit once we got to Houston. There were still the occasional stories and we definitely found ourselves being sent on plenty of public appearances.”

The pressure on NASA to select female astronauts was strong and, according to Deke Slayton in his autobiography, Deke, co-authored with Michael Cassutt, “there was some last-minute political bullshit.” This appeared to center on the fact that only one woman originally made the space agency’s final cut and five pilots had to be dropped in favour of five female mission specialists. “They got selected a couple of years later,” Slayton said of the pilots and, indeed, six pilots who reached the semi-final stage in 1978 (John Blaha, Roy Bridges, Guy Gardner, Ron Grabe, Bryan O’Connor, and Dick Richards) were chosen in 1980. The identity of the “one woman” has never been divulged, but whatever the truth the incident underlines the importance that NASA placed in its public image and its need to hire an astronaut class which truly represented the depth and breadth of America.

In April 1982, Ride was called into the office of George Abbey, head of Flight Crew Operations at the Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Texas. Abbey had chaired the selection committee and it was he who gave final approval on the choice of astronaut crews. For Ride, being summoned to his office, alone, that spring day, was unusual. “The commander is the first to know about a flight assignment,” she remembered. “Bob Crippen, who would be the commander of my crew, had already been told, but then usually the rest of the crew is told together; at least, that was the way it was done then. In this case, Mr. Abbey told me first, before he called over the other members of the crew. He took me up to JSC Director Chris Kraft’s office, who talked about the implications of being the first American woman astronaut. He reminded me that I would get a lot of press attention and asked if I was ready for that. His message was ‘Let us know if you need help. We’re here to help you in any way and can offer whatever help you need.’ It was a very reassuring message, coming from the head of the space center.”

Ride’s colleagues on the STS-7 mission would be Crippen, a veteran of the first shuttle flight, joined by Rick Hauck in the pilot’s seat and fellow mission specialist John Fabian. They were destined to train for a year, with a tentatively scheduled launch in April 1983 aboard Challenger to deploy two communications satellites and release and later retrieve a free-flying platform (the Shuttle Pallet Satellite, or “SPAS”) using the Canadian-built mechanical arm. In the same way that Ride found out about her assignment, alone, John Fabian had a similar recollection. “I didn’t know right off the bat that Sally was going to fly with me,” he explained, “and that Rick Hauck was going to fly with me. I’m sure that the decision had been made, but maybe because they hadn’t been told, I wasn’t told. It wasn’t a gathering. I don’t know why.” Certainly, being told as individuals was unusual, for most shuttle crews were informed as a group … and even the crew of Apollo 11 was gathered together to be told of their impending assignment. Little did they know at the time that their crew would ultimately expand to five members with the inclusion of a third mission specialist, Norm Thagard.

Sally Ride (right) served as the flight engineer, seated behind and between the Commander and Pilot on the Shuttle's flight deck. Her role during ascent and re-entry was to assist with monitoring Challenger's displays and systems. Photo Credit: NASA

Before STS-7 even left Earth, however, the most famous aspect of the mission was Ride herself. In some of the more cynical areas of the media, it was speculated that she had been added to the crew purely as a public relations ploy, in response to the Soviet Union launching Svetlana Savitskaya in August 1982. “NASA’s crew allocation procedure is a closely-guarded secret, though it is known to involve seniority and an attempt to match education and experience to the mission,” Flight International told its readers in April 1982, “but since NASA is financed by the U.S. taxpayer, its public image is also important. So it is likely that NASA is capitalising on the publicity of having a woman fly early … ”

Whilst it may be a little more than pure coincidence that a female astronaut happened to be one of the earliest to fly, Bob Crippen vehemently disagreed with the notion that Ride was simply a politically-driven “token” on the mission. “She is flying with us because she is the very best person for the job,” he told the press. “There is no man I would rather have in her place.” Still, the importance of her presence was evident. President Ronald Reagan invited the entire crew to the White House before launch … and again, for a state dinner, after the flight … and at various functions the white male astronauts were largely ignored or unrecognised by the press; the journalists were interested only in Ride.

Years later, Rick Hauck felt that, despite a few “awkward” occasions, training and execution of the first American mixed-sex space flight went without many problems. “There were situations,” he acquiesced, “where, maybe in the potty training, I’d never been involved in professional discussions with women about those! It was uncomfortable in a few situations, but the discomfort disappeared easily. Sally was great and Crip set the right tone in terms of what his expectations were of the crew. We just did it.”

Awkwardness was also a problem faced by NASA’s male-dominated engineering community, who decided that the female astronauts were bound to require a makeup kit! “So they came to me,” laughed Ride, “figuring that I could give them advice. It was about the last thing in the world that I wanted to be spending my time training on, so I didn’t spend much time on it at all. There were a couple of other female astronauts who were given the job of determining what should go in the makeup kit and how many tampons should fly as part of a flight kit. I remember the engineers trying to decide how many tampons should fly on a one-week flight and there were probably other issues, just because they had never thought about what kind of personal equipment a female astronaut would take. They knew that a man might want a shaving kit, but they didn’t know what a woman would carry.”

Confining four people to a volume the size of a camper van for six days made for cramped accommodation. Then, eight months into their training, the quartet became a quintet. When STS-5 rocketed into orbit on November 1982, one of its objectives was to perform the first-ever shuttle-based spacewalk. Unfortunately, this was cancelled, partly due to space sickness suffered by two of the crew members. This adverse effect on no less than half of the STS-5 crew prompted NASA to add a pair of physician-astronauts to STS-7 and STS-8.

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Odp: [AS] Ride, Sally Ride: Thirty Years Since America's First Woman in Space
« Odpowiedź #1 dnia: Październik 05, 2019, 20:57 »
Ride, Sally Ride: Thirty Years Since America's First Woman in Space (Part 1) (2)

The original, four-member STS-7 crew of (left to right) Bob Crippen, John Fabian, Rick Hauck and Sally Ride were joined by physician-astronaut Norm Thagard to form the world's first-ever five-member crew. Photo Credit: NASA

Norm Thagard, the physician joining Crippen’s crew, was already well known to Rick Hauck. “He and I had first met when we were both on the USS Lake Champlain, learning to land airplanes on aircraft carriers,” in the mid-1960s, recalled Hauck. “In order to try to learn more about space sickness, NASA generated a bunch of tests and I was one of the guinea pigs! As soon as we got on orbit, Norm had these visual, spinning things that I had to watch and, boy, I felt miserable. They sure accomplished the purpose! It was after about four hours that I started to come out of it and that resolved itself.” A similar perspective was offered by John Fabian: “I told people that if you had one, Norm Thagard measured it!”

At the time of Thagard’s assignment—just four days before Christmas 1982—the STS-7 launch was still officially scheduled for April of the following year, which also provided NASA with invaluable data about the length of time needed by astronauts to prepare themselves for missions. Eventually, due to hydrogen leaks which pushed Challenger’s maiden voyage from late January into early April 1983, Bob Crippen’s team found themselves rescheduled for mid-June. Despite the late addition of Thagard, Sally Ride recalled that he blended into the crew seamlessly. “We didn’t spend every waking hour together,” she said, “but we did spend almost all our time together, either as an entire crew or in groups of two or three. I was spending almost all my time with Crip and Rick in launch and re-entry simulations. Also, because we had things that required the whole crew, we did a lot of training together. We got to know each other very well. We never had any issues at all and got to be very good friends through the training.”

By the time Paul Weitz’s STS-6 crew brought Challenger swooping into Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., on 9 April 1983, the STS-7 launch date had slipped to “no earlier than” 18 June. Although SPAS, with its rendezvous commitment, attracted the most press attention, the commercial focus was a pair of commercial telecommunications satellites: Canada’s Anik-C2 and Indonesia’s Palapa-B1.

Displaying a similar theme of unity as a crew, and heralded by signs which screamed Ride, Sally Ride, Bob Crippen led his team out of the Operations and Checkout Building into the glare of media flashbulbs in the early hours of 18 June. It had been a peculiar morning. John Fabian remembered it lucidly: their “last breakfast,” a cake on the table, designed with their crew patch, followed by suiting-up and the long drive to Pad 39A. “You go through these various steps along the way,” he recalled of the drive. “At each place, they’re checking your ID and less and less people can proceed beyond each one of those.” When they finally passed through the last of those checks, Crippen turned to the others and told them that they had just said goodbye to the last sane people in the facility, “because we’ve got to be crazy to do what we’re doing!”

The five astronauts took the elevator ride to the 195-foot level, where they disembarked and headed across a narrow walkway to the “white room,” adjacent to Challenger’s access hatch, where technicians awaited them. Whilst Crippen and Hauck were being strapped into their seats, Fabian had a few minutes to look around, “take a last-minute nervous pee,” and watch the twinkling of car headlights, to the north, the south, and the west, crowding the roadways of the Kennedy Space Center. As Mission Specialist One, Fabian took his seat directly behind Hauck, with Ride to his left in the flight engineer’s position and Thagard downstairs on the middeck. “Once you get in the vehicle,” he explained, “and get strapped down and the door’s closed and latched and the technicians who are out there have run like hell, which is the right thing to do, you have just a little bit of time to think about all this, about what you’re going to do and about why you’re out there and about how you feel doing it.” That feeling lasted all the way down to the last built-in hold in the countdown, at T-9 minutes; after that, Fabian continued, “you’re only set on one thing: and that is you really want to fly today!” Unlike some astronauts, he admitted that he was aware of the risks involved, but “fear” did not factor into his emotional state. “I tell people I’ve been married to the same woman for 44 years,” he reasoned, “so I don’t scare easily!”

STS-7 roars into orbit, carrying America’s first female astronaut and the first five-member crew. Photo Credit: NASA

Thankfully, their countdown and liftoff at precisely 11:33 a.m. EST was one of the smoothest ever conducted. Challenger’s three main engines shut down on time, eight minutes and 20 seconds into the mission. To the untrained eye, the perfect ascent demonstrated NASA’s seemingly effortless ability to fly on time and within the tolerance of very brief “launch windows.” Only five minutes were available to the STS-7 crew for their first opportunity on 18 June, and only two minutes for a second shot, beginning at 12:24 p.m. The shorter-than-normal windows were dictated by three considerations: Earth horizon sensor constraints on Anik-C2 for a deployment during Challenger’s eighth orbit and on Palapa-B1 eleven orbits later, together with a requirement for adequate lighting conditions at Edwards Air Force Base, in the event that an emergency landing should become necessary.

For the four rookies on the crew, their years of training had paid off. “Physically, the simulator does a pretty good job,” Sally Ride said of its closeness to the real thing. “It shakes about right and the sound level is about right and the sensation of being on your back is right. It can’t simulate the G-forces that you feel, but that’s not too dramatic on a shuttle launch. The physical sensations are pretty close and, of course, the details of what you see in the cockpit are very realistic. The simulator is the same as the shuttle cockpit and what you see on the computer screens is what you’d see in flight.” There, however, the similarities ended. “The actual experience of a launch is not even close to the simulators,” Ride exclaimed. “The simulators just don’t capture the psychological and emotional feelings that come along with the actual launch. Those are fuelled by the realisation that you’re not in a simulator—you’re sitting on top of tons of rocket fuel and it’s basically exploding underneath you! It’s an emotionally and psychologically overwhelming experience; very exhilarating and terrifying, all at the same time.”

During ascent and re-entry, Ride helped Crippen and Hauck keep track of Challenger’s systems. “My job was primarily to keep track of where we were in the checklists and be prepared with the malfunction checklists should anything go wrong,” she remembered. “I was the one that was expected to be first to find and turn to the procedures should anything go wrong. I was also monitoring systems and status on the computer screens. My main job, though, assuming nothing went wrong, was to read the checklist and tick off the milestones. One of the first things that I was supposed to do—seven seconds after booster ignition—was, once the shuttle started to roll, to say ‘Roll program.’ I’ll guarantee that those were the hardest words I ever had to get out of my mouth. It’s not easy to speak seven seconds after launch!”

Meanwhile, in the pilot’s seat, Rick Hauck recalled seeing the sky outside his cockpit window change colour as Challenger climbed higher. “Seeing the sky turn from blue to black in a fraction of a second was amazing,” he said later, “because as you leave the atmosphere, the Sun’s rays are no longer being scattered by the air molecules. I remember as I was glancing out the window, startled, Crip said ‘Eyes on the cockpit!’ Back to work. Watch all the gauges. I guess that’s one thing that stands out in my memory. Everything about it was thrilling.” From his position, Fabian remembered that there was no chit-chat, no jokes—“it was all taken very professionally,” he said, “and very seriously”—although he did get the chance to crane his neck, a few seconds after launch, to look through one of the overhead windows and watch the fire from the SRBs and the launch pad gradually recede, the view broadening to take in the entire launch complex, then the whole of Cape Canaveral.

Achieving orbit, and the exalted and intensely peculiar state of weightlessness, the five astronauts were finally able to unstrap and begin configuring Challenger from a rocket ship into an Earth-circling spacecraft. “Below” them the Home Planet hung in the blackness like a brilliant blue and white jewel. But there was little time to contemplate their new surroundings. They had work to do.


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Odp: [AS] Ride, Sally Ride: Thirty Years Since America's First Woman in Space
« Odpowiedź #2 dnia: Październik 05, 2019, 20:59 »
Ride, Sally Ride: Thirty Years Since America's First Woman in Space (Part 2)
By Ben Evans, on June 16th, 2013

Sally Ride at work on Challenger's flight deck during STS-7. Her mission opened the door for U.S. women to venture into orbit. Thirty years since her pioneering flight, her legacy is represented aboard the International Space Station by NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg. Photo Credit: NASA

On the morning of 18 June 1983, Ride and her STS-7 crewmates entered orbit, with two commercial satellite deployments ahead of them and the release and retrieval of a unique Shuttle Pallet Satellite (SPAS). The main objective of their first day in space was the deployment of Canada’s Anik-C2 comsat, which would be performed by Fabian and Ride. Three hours into the mission, updated computations of Challenger’s orbital path—including her altitude, velocity, and inclination—were radioed up to them. Then, about 40 minutes before deployment, Crippen and Hauck maneuvered the shuttle into the correct attitude with its long axis “horizontal,” one wing down, and the open payload bay doors facing into the direction of travel. At length, the restraint arms pulled away from the $160 million Anik-C2 and the astronauts flipped a switch on Challenger’s aft flight deck to open the Pacman-like jaws of its sunshield and impart a spin rate of 50 revolutions per minute on the payload. This steady rotation helped to stabilise the satellite during deployment.

The External Tank, which carried cryogenic propellants for the shuttle’s main engines, is jettisoned early in the STS-7 mission. This view was acquired shortly after the crew unstrapped and began weightless operations. Photo Credit: NASA

Next, at 9:01:42 p.m. EST, nine and a half hours since leaving Florida and flying high over the Pacific, Fabian and Ride fired and released a clamp that held the satellite and its booster in place. Seeming to move in slow motion, the payload left the bay at just 2.3 feet per second. Fifteen minutes later, Crippen and Hauck backed the shuttle away to a distance of around 25 miles, aiming the shuttle’s belly toward the satellite to protect their delicate topside from the exhaust of the PAM-D booster. At 9:46 p.m., as the combination hurtled over Africa, an on-board timer automatically fired the motor for approximately one hundred seconds to push Anik-C2 into a highly elliptical geostationary transfer orbit. The performance of the booster and its motor were described as “satisfactory” on STS-7, with the only minor concern being a slight hesitation of Anik-C2’s sunshield during closure. Post-flight inspections revealed that a small Teflon rub strip, laced into one of its insulating panels, had inadvertently pulled itself loose.

Launching Indonesia’s Palapa-B1 satellite on 19 June followed the same routine. Once more under the watchful eyes of Fabian and Ride, it was sent spinning out of the payload bay at 1:36 p.m. EST. Forty-five minutes later, its PAM-D ignited to insert it perfectly into an accurate transfer orbit. Commanded from an Indonesian ground station at Cibinong, near Jakarta, the satellite was manoeuvred, in a similar manner to Anik-C2, into its operational slot at 108 degrees East longitude.

With two satellite deployments behind them, and two days off the planet, Ride and her crewmates were gradually acquiring their “space legs.” “I didn’t really know what to expect, because there isn’t a way to train for being weightless,” said Ride of her first experience of life in space. “It’s so far removed from a person’s everyday experience that even hearing other astronauts describe it didn’t give me a clue how to prepare for it. What I discovered was that, although it took an hour or so to get used to moving around, I adapted to it pretty quickly. I loved it! I really enjoyed being weightless.”

It was a pity that physician Norm Thagard, with his battery of space sickness tests to operate, could not have applied some of his expertise to the third deployable payload aboard Challenger. For, had the Shuttle Pallet Satellite been a human crew member, its maneuvers in space during the second half of the STS-7 mission would undoubtedly have rendered it somewhat queasy. The aim of flying the research platform was to demonstrate the shuttle’s ability to conduct close range “proximity” operations, including rendezvous, station-keeping, and retrieval. It would be deployed and recovered using the shuttle’s 50-foot-long Remote Manipulator System (RMS) arm, built in Canada. Such operations on STS-7 would provide critical, real-world data in support of one of Challenger’s most important assignments planned for the spring of 1984: the recovery and repair of NASA’s crippled Solar Max science satellite.

Indeed, the SPAS operations were, admitted Rick Hauck, one of the most challenging aspects of STS-7. “It was going to be the first time that the shuttle had flown in close proximity to another object,” he explained. “We knew that the shuttle had a lot of capabilities that had been designed into it and one of our major objectives was to flight test the ability to do the last stages of rendezvous and fly very close to another object when you’re both going at 17,500 mph. The objective was, using the RMS, Sally was to lift it out of the bay and release it. Crip would fly the shuttle with it just sitting there, because we could always drift relative to each other. We needed to make sure we could fly close to it comfortably, then back away, fire the jets to go back to it, eventually up to 200 feet, fly around it and see if we could fly it without having the reaction jets upset the satellite.”

Designed and built by the West German aerospace firm Messerschmitt-Bolkow-Blohm (MBB), under a June 1981 agreement with NASA, it was designed to accommodate scientific and technical experiments provided by fee-paying customers. Roughly triangular in shape, it weighed 3,300 pounds when fully laden. During missions, it could operate in the payload bay or be deployed for up to 40 hours in autonomous free flight. For STS-7, the $13 million platform was laden with several scientific and technical experiments, funded by the then-West Germany, the European Space Agency (ESA), and NASA. Although crammed with experiments—ranging from studies of metallic alloys to a state-of-the-art remote sensing scanner—it became most famous for its NASA-provided cameras, which yielded the first picture of the full shuttle in space.

The presence of a camera aboard the Shuttle Pallet Satellite (SPAS) enabled this astonishing view of Challenger in orbit to be taken. It marked the first time that an image had ever been acquired of the whole shuttle in space. Photo Credit: NASA

Getting such a historic photograph was planned, said Bob Crippen, thanks to the inputs of Bill Green from NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., but what was not intended was positioning the RMS in such a way that the mechanical arm’s joints created the number “7” to honor their own mission number. As a crew, they had practiced the maneuver on the ground—in fact, the design of their mission patch included a similar image—and it was Ride who placed the arm into this configuration in orbit. Some flight controllers were decidedly unhappy about the astronauts’ antics. They had not seen the RMS in such a position before and were concerned that to do so, for nothing more than a photo opportunity, might risk stretching the arm to its structural limits.

Still, the imagery acquired by SPAS of the shuttle in orbit, with the glittering blue and white marble of Earth beneath, proved truly stunning. Years later, Ride would admit that she still used the famous photograph as a slide during her lectures. “We worked hard on that,” Fabian remembered of the planning for the SPAS Photo. “We worked out the position [with] the arm in the shape of a ‘seven’ for the seventh flight and we didn’t tell anybody about this, of course. We had this on a back-of-our-hand-type of procedure—what angles each joint had to be in order for it to look like that—and then we had worked on the timing, so that we could catch the space shuttle against the black sky, with the horizon down below. That was the picture we most wanted. Now, we got a lot of good pictures, against the cloud background and against the total black sky … It had just a whole battery of cameras: a still camera, a TV camera, a motion-picture camera, and so we’re running these various cameras by remote as we fly the shuttle around it so that we can get the shuttle in various types of positions.”

Beginning on 20 June, the first of two phases of SPAS activities got underway with initial testing in the payload bay. During this time, seven of its 11 experiments were switched on and allowed to run continuously for 24 hours. Then, next day, with the satellite held securely by the RMS, Crippen and Hauck pulsed Challenger’s RCS thrusters to evaluate movements within the arm. Again, Sally Ride found her months of practice on the ground had prepared her amply for operating the real thing in orbit. “The simulators did a good job,” she said later. “It was a little easier to use the arm in space than it was in the simulators, because I could look out the window and see a real arm! Although the visuals in the simulator were very good, there’s nothing quite like being able to look out of the window and see the real thing. It felt very comfortable and familiar. The simulators had prepared me very well.” Early on 22 June, the second phase—actually releasing SPAS into space—got underway. Shortly before 9:00 a.m. EST, under John Fabian’s control, it was released from the arm. The crew reported that the satellite’s handling characteristics were exactly as expected and the RMS imparted no appreciable motion. For the next nine and a half hours, the astronauts tested the arm, fired off RCS plumes to deliberately disturb the satellite, and practiced the rendezvous and proximity operations needed during the Solar Max repair.

A bright flash of Challenger’s Orbital Maneuvering System (OMS) engines illuminates the STS-7 payload bay, packed with equipment. Photo Credit: NASA

“It was a big deal,” Bob Crippen reflected on the first deployment and retrieval by the shuttle, “and we wanted to make sure that we could rendezvous with satellites; could come back in and grab them. It turned out that it all went extremely well. It was a little bit different, in that what we called the ‘digital autopilot’, or the ‘DAP’—which is the way the computer fires the various jets—when we got in close to the satellite, I found that when you tried to slow down sometimes, the attitude control thrusters would also start going, and it kept ‘walking’ you in when you didn’t want to go in … We ended up learning a few things about how the autopilot worked that we corrected subsequently and makes it very nice for rendezvous today, which is extremely important on things like working with the [International Space] Station. It all really worked very well.”

Meanwhile, the crew described the retrieval—both in stable and slowly rotating attitudes—as easy to perform, “but the act of going up and capturing it was a little scary,” admitted Ride. “What if we couldn’t capture this satellite? It was easy in the simulators, but was it going to be easy in orbit? The experience was different because it was real! In the simulator, it wasn’t that important and if you missed, it was just a virtual arm going through a virtual payload. In orbit, it really mattered that I captured the satellite.” Fortunately, the retrieval went perfectly.

In general, only minor problems marred Challenger’s second mission. One of the more worrying problems was a small “pit” in one of the shuttle’s forward flight deck windows; caused, it turned out, by the impact of “space debris.” It was first noticed by the astronauts on 20 June, but they did not report it. “Crippen decided not to tell the ground that we’d been hit and it didn’t come up until after the flight,” John Fabian explained later. “His rationale for that, I assume, was that there wasn’t anything that the ground could do to help us. The event had already occurred. We were perfectly safe … and so he elected not to say anything. I think it was the right decision.” The window was subjected to detailed energy-discursive X-ray analysis after landing, and titanium oxide and small quantities of aluminium, carbon, and potassium were found in addition to pit glass. The morphology of the impact was suggestive of an impacting particle (most likely a tiny fleck of paint) … but travelling at four miles per second! “The results,” Fabian continued, “are so much larger than the event itself that it’s staggering.”

Originally, STS-7 was scheduled to perform the first shuttle landing at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Fla., a fact highlighted in the mission’s press kit, which would have helped to reduce turnaround times significantly. “We were looking forward to that,” remembered Sally Ride. “They had a red carpet ready to roll out for us and our families were all waiting for us in Florida.” Unfortunately, the touchdown on 24 June was postponed by two further revolutions in the hope that conditions would improve or facilitate a landing attempt at Edwards Air Force, Calif. It was expected that bringing shuttles back home to the East Coast launch site would save around $1 million and five days’ worth of processing for the next flight. Moreover, KSC landings would remove the necessity to expose the orbiter to the uncertainties and potential dangers of a cross-country ferry flight atop NASA’s modified 747. However, as Crippen’s crew discovered that June day in 1983, the West Coast landing site exhibited far more stable weather conditions than Florida.

The resultant three-hour delay to STS-7’s homecoming, therefore, gave the crew some much deserved free time and, said Rick Hauck, provided them with an opportunity to hold a makeshift, Earth-circling Olympics. “Each person, in turn, had their hands coming up from middeck to flight deck through that opening on the port side, hands curled over the floor of the flight deck. On the count of three,” Hauck explained, “we went as fast as we could up into the flight deck, down through the starboard entryway, down through the middeck, and back up. We gave out five awards. Sally won the fastest woman! John Fabian won the competitor that caused the most injuries; no-one got hurt, but I think his leg hit Crip coming around at one point. I think Norm Thagard was the fastest man. Crip was the most injured!”

After the hopes of an East Coast touchdown came to nothing, Crippen and Hauck duly fired Challenger’s engines to begin the hour-long hypersonic glide to Earth. Sally Ride was pleased. “I remember being disappointed that we weren’t going to land in Florida,” she said later, “but I grew up in California and we’d spent a lot of time at Edwards Air Force Base. The pilots had done a lot of approach and landing practice at Edwards, so it almost felt like a second home. But there weren’t many people there waiting for us!” Nonetheless, Challenger’s touchdown at 10:56 a.m. PST was near-perfect. Her systems performed well during re-entry and landing … but it had been a difficult mission.

A pioneer in the mold of Gagarin and Tereshkova and Glenn and Armstrong, the achievement of Sally Ride was both historic and inspiring for all humanity. Photo Credit: NASA

“I’m not a shuttle pilot,” said Fabian, “but I am a pilot and I know a thing or two about kicking rudders and moving ailerons … and this is a very difficult machine to fly. I have had an opportunity to fly the [shuttle] simulator. It’s not nearly as easy to fly as a big air transport, like a Boeing 707 or 757, and certainly a lot more difficult to fly than a little NASA T-38. You’ve got to stay on top of it all the time. You’ve got to be thinking well ahead of the vehicle, so this is not just a flying job for … the guy who really knows how to maneuver the airplane. This is a machine that is flown by people who are of great intellect as well as great skill. But when you come back down and you finally roll out on final and you can see the runway in front of you, even though you’ve seen this in the simulator before, it’s still startling when you look out there and see how rapidly you descend down towards that runway. You’re really coming down fast, about a twenty degree glide slope, and that’s really noticeable.” Twenty degrees represents an angle of attack more than six times steeper than a commercial aircraft—indeed, for the final minutes of each shuttle flight, the vehicle fell to Earth with all the grace of a brick.

When the crew returned to Houston, the media frenzy was more intense than previous missions, although their opportunities to relax were limited. Hauck and Fabian visited Indonesia and the whole crew was invited to a White House state dinner, hosted by President Ronald Reagan in honor of the Emir of Bahrain. As the first American woman in space, Sally Ride naturally drew the spotlight, to the extent that Crippen and NASA management were obliged to shield her on occasion. At one glitzy function, a group of unrecognized males—the rest of the STS-7 crew, together with Ride’s husband, fellow astronaut Steve Hawley—were almost turned away. Everyone knew Ride, but no one recognized them. Norm Thagard was pushed up against a wall by a particularly discourteous photographer, such was the urgency with which the latter needed to get to Ride and present his lens to her face.

Instinctively, each of them knew that it was all part of the post-flight circus (“Your turn in the barrel,” as John Fabian put it) and the price to be paid for having flown into space. Still, Ride only half-jokingly told the NASA oral historian that she was relieved to be assigned to her second mission in November 1983, because training kept her safe from the media. At least there she could be left to get on with her job.

It was a job which carried her again into space in October 1984 and—but for the loss of Challenger—might have led to a third mission in July 1986. However, for Sally Ride, the summer of 1986 would be spent on the panel of the presidential Rogers Commission into the Challenger accident and, thereafter, she would lead an influential report which proposed an ambitious roadmap for America’s future in space. The “Ride Report” was ambitious in its scope and several of its recommendations came into effect in the 1990s, whilst others are only steadily becoming a vision for the future, but the influence of Sally Ride as a proponent for science and exploration—and as a proponent for enthusing younger generations with science and exploration—would continue until the end of her life.


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Odp: [AS] Ride, Sally Ride: Thirty Years Since America's First Woman in Space
« Odpowiedź #3 dnia: Październik 05, 2019, 21:10 »
Spaceflight Pioneer Sally Ride Loses Battle With Pancreatic Cancer
By Ben Evans, on July 23rd, 2012 [AS]

Sally Ride was the first U.S. female astronaut to fly in space. Ride rode fire to orbit twice on missions STS-7 and STS-41G on the space shuttle. She lost a 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer on July 23, 2012 – she was 61. Image Credit: Christopher Paluso and San Diego Air and Space Museum

Tributes flooded in from around the world this evening to honour America’s first woman in space, Sally Ride, who has died following a lengthy battle with pancreatic cancer. She was 61. NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden tonight described Ride as one of the nation’s “finest leaders, teachers and explorers”, paid homage to her uncommon ability to break gender barriers with grace and professionalism and declared that “her star will always shine brightly”. Meanwhile, Deputy Administrator Lori Garver called Ride “a personal and professional role model”, whose “spirit and determination will continue to be an inspiration for women everywhere.”

Born of Norwegian ancestry, Sally Kristen Ride entered the world in Los Angeles on 26 May 1951. In her early years, she aspired to become a professional tennis player and, for a time, at Westlake High School, was team captain. After graduating from Westlake, she entered Stanford University to study physics and English. Whilst there, Billie Jean King watched her play and advised her to leave college and turn professional. Ride rejected King’s advice and continued her studies, receiving a degree in 1973, a master’s in 1975 and a doctorate in astrophysics and free electron laser physics in 1978. Receipt of her PhD, incidentally, came only days before she began the long drive to Houston, Texas, to begin training as one of America’s first six female astronaut candidates.

Ride handled all of the duties and responsibilities of her male counterparts including that of capsule communicator (CAPCOM). Here Ride is seen serving in this role on STS-2. Photo Credit: NASA

“I saw an ad in the Stanford University student newspaper…that NASA was accepting applications,” Ride told the space agency’s oral historian. “They wanted applications from women, which is presumably the reason the Center for Research on Women [at Stanford] was contacted and the reason they offered to place the ad in the newspaper.” In October 1977, the 26-year-old Ride was summoned to Houston as part of a 20-strong interview group. “We spent a week,” she recalled, “going from briefing to briefing, from dinner to medical evaluations, psychological exams and individual interviews.” Three months later, she was selected for astronaut training and expressed surprise at the intensity of the public attention. “Stanford arranged a press conference on the day of the announcement,” she said. “I was a PhD physics student. Press conferences were not a normal part of my day!”

After training, one of Ride’s most important duties was the Shuttle’s Remote Manipulator System (RMS) – the Canadian-built mechanical arm – and with fellow astronaut candidates John Fabian and Norm Thagard she spent much time working on its development and testing. Little could the three of them have known that they would travel into space together in the summer of 1983. Although six women had been chosen by NASA, many expected Ride or Judy Resnik to be the first to fly. Fellow astronaut Rhea Seddon, in a NASA oral history, remarked that Ride’s technical duties, which included the RMS and Capcom duties in Mission Control, marked her out for an early flight assignment.

Ride’s first space mission, STS-7, saw several satellites deployed and by mission standards would be viewed as routine. However, the inclusion of Sally Ride to the crew would serve as a watershed event that would alter the makeup of shuttle crews for the duration of the program’s 30-year history. Photo Credit: NASA

The call came in April 1982, when Ride was called into the office of George Abbey, the director of Flight Crew Operations at the Johnson Space Center (JSC). He had earlier chaired the astronaut selection committee and an invitation to his office was unusual. Abbey told her that she would be aboard STS-7 and JSC Director Chris Kraft reminded her that she would receive much press attention and offered his unflinching support. “It was a very reassuring message,” Ride said, “coming from the head of the space centre.”

In some cynical areas of the media, it was speculated that she had been added only because the Soviet Union planned to launch its second female cosmonaut, Svetlana Savitskaya, in August 1982. However, STS-7 Commander Bob Crippen vehemently disagreed. “She is flying with us because she is the very best person for the job,” he told journalists at the time. “There is no man I would rather have in her place.”

Sally Ride established “Sally Ride Science” to inspire children to become interested in science and space exploration. The organization had the MoonKAM experiment mounted to the GRAIL spacecraft that was NASA’s first planetary mission (in this case Earth’s Moon) with instruments fully dedicated to education and public outreach. Photo Credit: Sally Ride Science

There was some awkwardness, however. STS-7 crewmate Rick Hauck recalled that it was the first time he had ever engaged in professional discussions with a woman over the Shuttle’s toilet and Ride herself recalled being approached for advice by NASA engineers over whether a make-up kit should be flown and how many tampons should be carried! “They came to me,” laughed Ride, “figuring that I could give them advice! It was about the last thing in the world that I wanted to be spending my time training on, so I didn’t spend much time on it at all.”

Her STS-7 flight in June 1983 was noteworthy in that it featured the rendezvous with West Germany’s Shuttle Pallet Satellite and Ride used the RMS arm extensively, as well as serving as the flight engineer for the mission. Within months, in November, she and Crippen were named to a new crew, which became STS-41G and flew in October 1984. However, Crippen was already training for another mission and for the first six months he was unable to join his 41G crewmates. As the only other flight-experienced crew member, Ride found herself taking on the mantle of ‘surrogate commander’. “I had flown with Crip,” she said, “so I knew how he liked things done and I knew what his habits were. On launch and re-entry, I knew what he wanted to do and what he wanted the pilot and the flight engineer to do, so our crew started launch and re-entry simulations without Crip.”

When the mission got underway in October 1984, it involved the deployment of a large satellite to monitor Earth’s radiation budget, the operation of a powerful synthetic aperture radar and the first American EVA to feature a woman, Kathy Sullivan. By the summer of the following year, Ride was back in training again; this time to fly STS-61M in July 1986, which would deploy a large Tracking and Data Relay Satellite. The destruction of Challenger in January eliminated those plans and Ride was tapped to sit on the panel of the presidential inquiry into the disaster.

A year later, in 1987, she led and co-authored NASA’s strategic planning document, ‘Leadership and America’s Future in Space’ (popularly known as ‘The Ride Report’), which provided a roadmap for future US exploration in space. It emphasised a ‘Mission to Planet Earth’, a permanently-staffed space station, a lunar base and a human voyage to Mars. The vision of Ride’s group foresaw a 30-man base on the Moon by 2010 and the construction of a permanent habitat on the Red Planet, sometime in the early 2020s. It is perhaps one of her lasting legacies that the Mission to Planet Earth proved a tremendous success, that a permanently-staffed space station is today in orbit and that lunar bases and human voyages to Mars have finally found their way back onto NASA planning charts.

Sally Ride’s orbital experiences would serve to fire the imagination of a generation of women who would enter careers in aerospace. Her technical knowledge was viewed as far more important than her gender however in the aftermath of the Challenger disaster – she became part of the committee that reviewed the cause of the accident. Photo Credit: NASA

Ride married fellow astronaut Steve Hawley in July 1982 in a ceremony officiated by her sister, the Presbyterian Reverend Karen Ride and his father, Dr Bernard Hawley. Their marriage ended in 1987. “Sally was a very private person,” Hawley said in a statement, issued this evening, “who found herself a very public persona. It was a role in which she was never fully comfortable. I was privileged to be a part of her life.” In 1987, Ride left NASA to join the University of California at San Diego as a professor of physics and director of the California Space Institute.

In 2001, she founded her own company, Sally Ride Science, to pursue her passion of motivating girls and young women to follow careers in the sciences, engineering and mathematics. Her long-time partner Dr Tam O’Shaughnessy – a childhood friend who met Ride when they were both aspiring tennis players – later became the chief operating officer and executive vice president of Sally Ride Science. As America and the world bids farewell to a trailblazing pioneer – less than six months after the untimely death of Janice Voss and only weeks since the tragic death of Alan Poindexter – perhaps Ride’s greatest gift is that she inspired thousands of women to believe in their dreams.

“Sally dedicated her life to the mission of opening the world of science to girls,” said Lon Rains, chair of the Coalition for Space Exploration. Steve Hawley added that she “allowed many young girls across the world to believe they could achieve anything if they studied and worked hard. I think she would be pleased with that legacy.”

Ride will be remembered not only as the first female U.S. astronaut but also as a strong supporter for increased science education for children, especially girls. Ride went on to author five books focused on the subject. Photo Credit: NASA


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Odp: [AS] Ride, Sally Ride: Thirty Years Since America's First Woman in Space
« Odpowiedź #3 dnia: Październik 05, 2019, 21:10 »

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Odp: [AS] Ride, Sally Ride: Thirty Years Since America's First Woman in Space
« Odpowiedź #4 dnia: Czerwiec 19, 2023, 00:07 »
Shuttle Rockets to Orbit With 5 Aboard

Mission specialist Sally Ride as she talked with mission control in Houston during the six day space flight of the Shuttle Challenger June 25,1983. Ride was the first woman to go into sapce.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Four men and a woman, the first American woman to go into space, rocketed into orbit today aboard the space shuttle Challenger and then launched the first of two satellites in the successful beginning of a busy six-day mission.

The winged spaceship lifted off on schedule at 7:33 A.M. after one of the smoothest countdowns of the shuttle program. It carried two communications satellites, an assortment of scientific experiments and a West German satellite that is to be released and then retrieved in a critical test of the shuttle's 50-foot mechanical arm.

On future missions astronauts expect to release small satellites with the mechanical arm and to rendezvous with ailing satellites to retrieve them for repairs in orbit or back on the earth.

Deployment of Missiles

One of the communications satellites, Canada's Anik C, was launched from Challenger's cargo bay late this afternoon and, with a boost from its own small rocket, sent spinning into the darkness of space on a course toward a 22,300-mile-high orbit. The other satellite, Indonesia's Palapa B, is set to be similarly launched Sunday morning to complete the mission's primary objectives.

But what set this flight apart from the 36 other manned American space missions over the last 22 years was not the cargo but the occupant just behind the two pilots. She was Dr. Sally K. Ride, a 32-year-old physicist who has been in astronaut training since 1978. She is the third woman to fly in space, but the first on an American mission.

A crowd estimated at 250,000 stood in the bright morning sun to watch the seventh shuttle launching, and many of them wore ''Ride, Sally Ride'' T-shirts. 2d Flight for Crippen

In his weekly radio address, President Reagan said that Ride's flight was ''another example of the great strides women have made in our country.''

Shortly after liftoff, John McLeaish, a public affairs officer at Mission Control in Houston, announced, ''Space shuttle Challenger has delivered to space the largest human payload of all time -four men, one woman.''

The four men are Capt. Robert L. Crippen of the Navy, who was a pilot on the first shuttle flight in 1981; Capt. Frederick H. Hauck of the Navy; Col. John M. Fabian of the Air Force, and Dr. Norman E. Thagard, a physician. A crew of four took the Challenger on its maiden flight last April.

Ride and Colonel Fabian, who holds a doctorate in engineering, are the nonpilot astronauts designated as mission specialists. They are responsible for deploying the two communications satellites and operating the mechanical arm as well as monitoring other payloads.

In his prelaunching commentary, Hugh W. Harris, another public affairs officials, noted Dr. Ride's repeated efforts to minimize the attention she has received as the first American woman to become an astronaut. ''Dr. Ride emphasizes she is a mission specialist and a scientist who also happens to be a woman,'' he said.

Still, her presence was manifest before, during and after the launching. The last message to the crew before liftoff was, ''Sally, have a ball.'' It was from her husband, Dr. Steven Hawley, who is also an astronaut. 'See You, Friday'

In the ascent, as the spaceship climbed toward an 184-mile-high orbit, Ride could be heard, in her role as a flight engineer, calling out checklists in a clear, businesslike voice.

Then, relaxing somewhat as the Challenger approached orbit, Ride radioed Mission Control, ''See you Friday,'' referring to the crew's planned landing here at the Kennedy Space Center. This would be the first time a shuttle has been brought back to the three-mile runway at its launching base.

And, like any other astronaut after his or her first ascent into orbit, Ride sought to give expression to the thrill of a first flight.

''Have you ever been to Disneyland?'' she asked Roy Bridges, the astronaut acting as the crew communicator at Mission Control. ''Affirmative,'' replied Mr. Bridges. ''This is definitely an E ticket,'' Dr. Ride remarked, referring to a ticket that the amusement park used to have for admission to the best rides, including the super roller coaster. Setting Up in Orbit

Captain Crippen, more laconic, said after the craft reached orbit, ''Nice flying machine.'' He was the pilot, with John W. Young, of the shuttle Columbia on its first flight and had now become the first astronaut to make a second shuttle flight.

The astronauts were generally quietly busy as they unstowed gear, checked out all systems and opened the doors to the Challenger's 60-foot cargo bay, in which were housed the two communications satellites, the West German satellite and another collection of scientific experiments. They transmitted television pictures showing the cargo bay and tail section had survived the vibrations of liftoff without visible damage.

Jay Greene, a flight director at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, said all the crew ''seem to be in high spirits and performing well.'' Observing the Payload

For the deployment of the Anik C communications satellite Ride and Colonel Fabian stood at a panel of controls at the rear of the flight deck, where they could observe through windows and television monitors the satellite at the aft section of the cargo bay. The satellite and its attached solid-fuel rocket weighed 7,400 pounds.

''It sure is fun,'' Ride said when she began operating the satellite deployment controls. The satellite, built for Canada by the Hughes Aircraft Company, is a huge cylinder 22 feet high and seven feet wide when fully deployed. It will be placed in an orbit 22,300 miles over the Pacific Ocean. From there it is supposed to be able to relay the equivalent of 21,500 voice channels and is to be used initially by the GTE Satellite Corporation's direct-to-home pay television service in the United States.

The Palapa B satellite, similar in size and weight and also built by Hughes, is to provide telecommunications services for Indonesia and the Association of Southeast Asia Nations, which includes the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Papua-New Guinea.
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Odp: [AS] Ride, Sally Ride: Thirty Years Since America's First Woman in Space
« Odpowiedź #5 dnia: Czerwiec 19, 2023, 00:07 »
“You’re Not In A Simulator”: Remembering the Ride of Sally Ride & the Achievements of Women in Space
by Ben Evans June 18, 2023

Sally Ride at work on Challenger’s flight deck during STS-7. Her career opened the door for U.S. women to venture into orbit. Photo Credit: NASA

Forty years ago, today, America launched its first woman into space. Physicist Dr. Sally Ride rocketed to orbit aboard shuttle Challenger, accompanied by her STS-7 crewmates Bob Crippen, Rick Hauck, John Fabian and Norm Thagard, to become only the world’s third female spacefarer.

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Odp: [AS] Ride, Sally Ride: Thirty Years Since America's First Woman in Space
« Odpowiedź #5 dnia: Czerwiec 19, 2023, 00:07 »