Sally Ride Enters Astronaut Hall of Fame
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) _ Sally Ride, America’s first woman in space, was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame on Saturday, almost 20 years to the day that she rocketed into history.
``When I was a little girl, I always dreamed of flying in space. Still can’t believe that came true,″ Ride told an applauding crowd.
Ride, 52, also became the first woman to be honored at the hall of fame. The ceremony was just a few miles from where she was launched aboard Challenger on June 18, 1983, and she was introduced by her two-time mission commander, Robert Crippen.
``The Kennedy Space Center had more women dignitaries gathered here at that time than I believe have ever been put in any one place before or since. And in the media, the crew was known as Sally Ride and the Others,″ said Crippen, NASA’s first shuttle pilot, with a smile. He noted that the four crewmen, including ``yours truly, were proud to be the Others.″
Crippen recounted how Ride, whom he described as a former California valley girl and hotshot tennis player, went on to become an expert shuttle robot-arm operator and flight engineer.
``On that flight, this new inductee broke perhaps the world’s highest glass ceiling that had existed for more than two decades,″ he said.
Ride, a physicist, flew in space twice and was training for her third and final mission when Challenger erupted in the sky in 1986. She became a member of the presidential commission that probed the shuttle explosion and, earlier this year, joined the Columbia Accident Investigation Board.
Several hundred people, many of them tourists, gathered under an overcast sky for the outdoor ceremony at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Soon after Ride spoke, thunderstorms swept through and the speeches shortened considerably.
Three other former shuttle astronauts were inducted into the hall of fame on Saturday: Daniel Brandenstein and Robert ``Hoot″ Gibson, both veteran pilots, and Story Musgrave, a celebrated spacewalker who helped correct the Hubble Space Telescope’s blurred vision in 1993.
They join 48 other astronauts already enshrined at the hall, including all of the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skylab and Apollo-Soyuz veterans. Of the 52 astronauts, 11 are dead.
The four new inductees were chosen by a panel of former space program officials, aerospace journalists and others.
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