Cosmic Space

Ride, Sally Ride! Pluto landmarks honor pioneers of flight

Two women pioneers of flight now have places of honor on Pluto, thanks to the International Astronomical Union and the team behind NASA’s New Horizons mission.

The IAU has formally approved naming a huge cliff near the southern tip of Pluto’s heart-shaped Tombaugh Regio after Sally Ride (1951-2012), who became the first American woman in space in 1983.

“Sally loved space exploration,” Tam O’Shaughnessy, Ride’s life partner, said in a NASA news release. “Even after her NASA years, she dreamed of joining a mission to the moon or Mars or Pluto. Sally also loved the debate about whether or not Pluto was a true planet. And she appreciated the new criteria for classifying a planet. After all, how else can a planetary scientist decide? Sally would be over the moon — or Pluto — with the honor of having Ride Rupes named after her.”

Not far from Ride Rupes is Coleman Mons, an ice volcano that’s named after Bessie Coleman (1892-1926) the first African-American woman and first Native American to hold a pilot’s license. She earned her license in France in 1923, at a time when U.S. flight schools didn’t admit women or Black people.

“Sally Ride and Bessie Coleman were separated by generations, but they are forever connected by their great achievements, which opened doors for women and girls around the world,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said. “In breaking barriers they motivated so many women to pursue dreams and careers they didn’t think were possible, and their sheer persistence and pursuit of equality inspire people to this day.”


Sally Ride honored 35 years after space milestone

Lego minifigs at Blue Origin
“Women of NASA” Lego toys are arrayed in front of Blue Origin’s New Shepard crew capsule. (Blue Origin)

The first American woman in space, Sally Ride, is the subject of serious and playful memorials today, 35 years after her historic flight and nearly six years after her death.

U.S. postage stamp bearing Ride’s visage went on sale last month, and last year, a Sally Ride minifigure was released as part of a “Women of NASA” set of Lego toys.

Blue Origin, the space venture founded by Amazon millionaire Jeff Bezos, marked today’s anniversary by showing off a Lego set that flew to space and back on the company’s New Shepard suborbital spaceship.

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Science stamps celebrate STEM and Sally Ride

Postage stamps
One stamp features an Apollo spacecraft. Another pays tribute to Sally Ride. (USPS Illustration)

If you’re the U.S. Postal Service, how do you follow up on Pluto, planets, “Star Trek”and a total solar eclipse? Here’s how: Next year’s batch of postage stamps will include a memorial to Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, as well as a four-stamp set paying tribute to science, technology, engineering and math (a.k.a. STEM).

The science-minded selections were included this week in a sneak preview for the Postal Service’s 2018 lineup.

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