Presidential Medal Of Freedom Awarded To The Late Sally Ride
November 21, 2013

Sally Ride, First US Woman In Space, Awarded Medal Of Freedom

[ Watch the Video: Sally Rides Receives Presidential Medal of Freedom ]

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

President Obama awarded the late Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, with the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Wednesday in a special ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the award’s creation by President John F. Kennedy.

A role model to generations of young women, Dr. Ride flew into space aboard the Challenger shuttle on June 18, 1983 at the age of 31. After completing two missions aboard the space shuttle, Ride transitioned into an award-winning academic career at the University of California, San Diego, where she was a passionate advocate for science education and racial and gender equality. She taught students from all backgrounds that there are no limits to what they can accomplish.

Dr. Ride’s contribution to America’s space program continued until her death in 2012 at age 61. In addition to serving in several administrations as an advisor on space exploration, she was the only person to serve as a member of both investigation boards following NASA’s two space shuttle accidents. She also served as a member of the Review of US Human Spaceflight Plans Committee, also known as the Augustine Committee, in 2009, which informed many of the decisions about NASA’s current human spaceflight programs.

“Dr. Sally Ride was more than an astronaut -- she was an American treasure. Thanks to Sally's work throughout her lifetime, young women and girls, can now aspire to fly in space. That is primarily because of the way Sally lived her life and dedicated it to future generations,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.

“There are only a handful of names in the history of human spaceflight that are widely known – and Sally’s is certainly one of them. Sally’s legacy in encouraging young women and girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics is work that will continue through Sally Ride Science, along with the inspiration she will always provide as a role model and a true citizen of the world.”

Tam O'Shaughnessy, Ride's life partner and the chair of the board of directors of Sally Ride Science, accepted the award on behalf of Dr. Ride.

The Medal of Freedom is the nation’s highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.

This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the Executive Order signed by President John F. Kennedy establishing the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Since its inception, more than 500 people from all walks of life have been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, including the following 14 NASA astronauts and leaders:

• Apollo 11 astronauts Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, and Michael Collins; Awarded with Distinction; 1969

• Apollo 13 astronauts Fred Haise, Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert; 1970

• Apollo 13 Mission Operations Team including Thomas Paine, Gerald Griffin, Gene Kranz, Glynn Lunney, Edgar Mitchell, Siguard Sjoberg and Milton Windler; 1970

• John Glenn, first American to orbit Earth; 2012