History Timeline 1980's

Photo above: President Ronald Reagan. Courtesy Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, Naval Photographic Center. Right: IBM PC circuitboard for the 5150. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

IBM Personal Computer Board

U.S. Timeline - The 1980s

The Reagan Revolution

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  • Timeline

  • 1983 - Detail

    June 18, 1983 - Astronaut Sally Ride becomes the first American woman to travel into space.

    American Astronaut Sally Ride

    Five years earlier, Sally Ride had been selected to become a member of the NASA Astronaut Group 8, the first class of astronauts that would include women. She had seen an ad for candidates in the Stanford Student newspaper while studying for her PHD in physics, her specialty in Astrophysics and free electron lasers. She and her new NASA astronaut classmates, thirty-five in total, were introduced to the public on January 16, 1978, a class that now included not only women, but scientists and engineers, not only the former pilots required prior to the advent of the Space Shuttle system. They reported to Houston in July 1978 to begin training. The class was the first selected in ten years. Five other women besides Ride were included. Of the employees at the Johnson Space Center at the time, four thousand in number, there were only five or six women.

    "One of my first assignments was on the Shuttle's robot arm, the RMS [Remote Manipulator System]. It was still in the testing and development stage. I was one of a couple of astronauts that became heavily involved in the simulator work to verify that the simulators accurately modeled the arm: to develop procedures for using the arm in orbit, to develop the malfunction procedures so astronauts would know what to do if something went wrong. There weren't any checklists when we started; we developed them all. We also helped with the testing of the hardware itself at the contractor facility in Canada," Sally Ride, 2002.

    After her training was complete, Ride first served on two missions, STS-2, a two day mission of the Space Shuttle Columbia launched November 12, 1981, and STS-3, an eight day mission of Columbia launched March 22, 1982, as an on ground support crew member, serving as Capsule Communicator. She was the first woman in that role.

    The STS-7 Mission

    On June 18, 1983 at 7:33:00 a.m., Sally Ride and crewmates Commander Robert L. Crippen, Pilot Frederick H. Hauck, Mission Specialist John M. Fabian, and Norman E. Thagard, the largest crew to date, launched from Cape Canaveral on a six day mission. The mission's main objective was to launch two satellites, ANIK C-2 for TELESAT Canada and PALAPA-B1 for Indonesia, plus engage in ten experiments, including the study of space sickness on astronauts. It would last six days, two hours, twenty-three minutes and fifty-nine seconds, revolving around the earth ninety-eight times before landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California, a diversion from the expected first landing at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Inclement weather caused the change in plans. How far did they travel? Try two and one half million miles.

    Part of Ride's task was, as an expert in the use of the Challenger's robot arm, to deploy then retrieve the first Shuttle Pallet Satellite (SPAS-01). It would be the first attempt to retrieve a satellite and return it from space.

    "The act of releasing a satellite and then backing the arm away felt very much like it did in the simulators. But the act of going up and capturing a satellite was a little more scary. I remember thinking, "Oh, my gosh. This is real metal that will hit real metal if I miss. What if we don't capture this satellite? It was easy in the simulators, but is it going to be as easy in orbit?" It turned out that it was, but the experience was different because it was real. In orbit, it really mattered that I captured the satellite. In the simulators it's not that important. If you miss, it's just a virtual arm going through a virtual payload, and no harm's done," Sally Ride, 2002.

    Sally Ride spent a total of nine working as an astronaut for NASA, launching again on October 5, 1984, for her second Challenger mission, STS-41-G.

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    First Woman in Space

    Although Sally Ride's mission into space was a historic day for the United States and women in the NASA Space Program, it was long after the first woman from any nation had flown into outer space. Soviet Union cosmonaut Valentina V. Tereshkova became the first on June 16, 1963, only two years after the first man in space, Soviet Yuri Gagarin. She had been in training, amongst four other women, since selection on February 16, 1962. Her mission was concurrent with another Soviet mission by Valery Bykovsky with the two craft communicating with each other when only three miles apart. Over three days, Tereshkova circled the earth forty-eight times before landing on June 19, by parachute.

    Photo above: Sally Ride in Space Shuttle Challenger, NASA. Courtesy NASA Content Administrator. Below: Sally Ride with her STS-7 Challenger Crew; Ride, John Fabian, Commander Bob Crippen, Norm Thagard, Pilot Federick Hauck, NASA. Courtesy NASA Content Administrator. Info source: NASA; NASA Oral History Project; Wikipedia Commons.

    Crew of Sally Ride Mission 1983

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