Sally Ride Google Doodle celebrates first US woman in space

26 May 2015

Astronauts Kathryn D. Sullivan, left, and Sally Ride display a "bag of worms." Image via NASA

Ride Sally Ride: A number of countries across the world have been treated to a series of Google Doodle gifs celebrating what would have been the 64th birthday of Sally Ride, the first American woman to go into space.

While the early achievements in space were pioneered by the Soviet Union in the 1960s, there are few female astronauts as celebrated as Sally Ride, the first female astronaut to fly into space with NASA in 1983.

As far as role models for women looking to move into science, Sally is an aspirational figure for any girl or woman. She spent her childhood playing with chemistry sets and her telescope and, after almost taking up tennis professionally, decided that science was her life’s passion.

Her break into NASA came at a time when a female astronaut would have been something that would have been dismissed instinctively by her male colleagues, but this didn’t stop her applying to NASA in 1977 as she finished her PhD in physics at Stanford University.

After much dedication and intense training, Sally was chosen along with six other female candidates to join the astronaut programme and finally made her dream come true on 18 June 1983 as she travelled on the Space Shuttle Challenger, and many more missions in later years.

After retiring from NASA, she spent the rest of her life dedicated to Sally Ride Science, a programme to encourage children, particularly young girls, into careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

Sadly, just a few years ago, Sally lost her battle with pancreatic cancer and passed away on 23 July 2012.

To honour her life, Google sought the help of the very talented artist Olivia Huynh, who has created five incredible Google Doodle gifs to celebrate her achievements.

Google also brought in animator Nate Swinehart to chart Sally’s life in a rather touching video. has previously charted some of the most inspiring female astronauts and space pioneers, which are worth checking out to see some of the other women who broke social and racial barriers in part one and part two of a series.

Sally-Ride-gif-4  Sally-Ride-gif-1 Sally-Ride-gif-2 Sally Ride gif

Sally Ride gif

Inspirefest 2015 is Silicon Republic’s international event running 18-20 June in Dublin that connects sci-tech professionals passionate about the future of STEM with fresh perspectives on leadership, innovation and diversity.

Women Invent is Silicon Republic’s campaign to champion the role of women in science, technology, engineering and maths. It has been running since March 2013, and is kindly supported by Accenture Ireland, Intel, the Irish Research Council, ESB, Twitter, CoderDojo and Science Foundation Ireland.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic