Space exploration is a relatively new concept and within the past 50 years, a great deal of firsts was achieved. For John Glenn, he was the first American to orbit the Earth, while Sally Ride was the first American woman in space. This article offers information and words of wisdom concerning both of these influential space explorers.
Before John Glenn became a part of the Mercury program at NASA, he was a Marine Corps fighter pilot. Interestingly, Glenn did not have the required college degree when he was assigned to NASA in 1959. When he orbited the Earth in 1962, he was aboard Friendship 7.
Another achievement of Glenn was becoming the oldest person to fly in space in 1998. when he was 77 years old, he was the only person to fly in both the Mercury and Shuttle programs. Out of all the original crewmembers of the Mercury Seven, only Glenn and M. Scott Carpenter are still alive.
After retiring from NASA, Glenn enjoyed a career in politics. As a Democrat, he represented Ohio in the US Senate from 1974 to 1999. For his participation in space exploration, Glenn earned the Congressional Space Medal of Honor in 1978 and was inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame in 1990.
John Glenn , Words of Wisdom
“I don’t know what you could say about a day in which you have seen four beautiful sunsets.”
“The most important thing we can do is inspire young minds and to advance the kind of science, math and technology education that will help youngsters take us to the next phase of space travel.”
“There is still no cure for the common birthday.”
“This is a day we have managed to avoid for a quarter of a century.”
After being one of 8,000 people to answer an ad in a newspaper seeking applicants for the space program, Sally Ride was chosen to join NASA in 1978. About five years later, she would become the first American woman to enter space. At the time, she was also the youngest American to achieve this feat. During her career with NASA, Ride was the ground-based Capsule Communicator (CapCom) for the second and third Space Shuttle flights (called STS-2 and STS-3). She also assisted in the development of the Space Shuttle’s robot arm.
By the time Ride reached space, two other women from the Soviet Union (Valentina Tereshkova and Svetlana Savitskaya) had already made the journey , in 1963 and 1982. Ride was aboard the Challenger for STS-7, which was responsible for deploying two communications satellites. They also conducted medical experiments while in space. Ride was also the first woman to use the robot arm in space, as well as the first to use the arm to retrieve a satellite during a mission.
Ride left NASA in 1987 so that she could accept a position at the Stanford University Center for International Security and Arms Control.
Sally Ride , Words of Wisdom
“All adventures, especially into new territory, are scary.”
“The stars don’t look bigger, but they do look brighter.”
“The view of Earth is spectacular.”
“We can see cities during the day and at night, and we can watch rivers dump sediment into the ocean, and see hurricanes form.”
“Yes, I did feel a special responsibility to be the first American woman in space.”