Publish date:
Updated on
Year
1983

First American woman in space

From Cape Canaveral, Florida, the space shuttle Challenger is launched into space on its second mission. Aboard the shuttle was Dr. Sally Ride, who as a mission specialist became the first American woman to travel into space. During the six-day mission, Ride, an astrophysicist from Stanford University, operated the shuttle’s robot arm, which she had helped design.

Her historic journey was preceded almost 20 years to the day by cosmonaut Valentina V. Tereshkova of the Soviet Union, who on June 16, 1963, became the first woman ever to travel into space. The United States had screened a group of female pilots in 1959 and 1960 for possible astronaut training but later decided to restrict astronaut qualification to men. In 1978, NASA changed its policy and announced that it had approved six women to become the first female astronauts in the U.S. space program. The new astronauts were chosen out of some 3,000 original applicants. Among the six were Sally Ride and Shannon Lucid, who in 1996 set a new space endurance record for an American and a world endurance record for a woman during her 188-day sojourn on the Russian space station Mir.

Tags
terms:
Space

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Napoleon defeated at Waterloo

At Waterloo in Belgium, Napoleon Bonaparte suffers defeat at the hands of the Duke of Wellington, bringing an end to the Napoleonic era of European history. The Corsica-born Napoleon, one of the greatest military strategists in history, rapidly rose in the ranks of the French ...read more

War of 1812 begins

The day after the Senate followed the House of Representatives in voting to declare war against Great Britain, President James Madison signs the declaration into law–and the War of 1812 begins. The American war declaration, opposed by a sizable minority in Congress, had been ...read more

Hitler and Mussolini meet in Munich

On this day in 1940, Benito Mussolini arrives in Munich with his foreign minister, Count Ciano, to discuss immediate plans with the Fuhrer, and doesn’t like what he hears. Embarrassed over the late entry of Italy in the war against the Allies, and its rather tepid performance ...read more

Westmoreland requests more troops

Gen. William Westmoreland, senior U.S. military commander in Vietnam, sends a new troop request to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Westmoreland stated that he needed 542,588 troops for the war in Vietnam in 1967–an increase of 111,588 men to the number already serving there. In the ...read more

Arnold Palmer wins U.S. Open

On June 18, 1960, Arnold Palmer shoots a 65 to win the U.S. Open at Cherry Hills Country Club in Denver, Colorado. It was the best final round in U.S. Open history. Palmer, from Ligonier, Pennsylvania was the son of a golf pro at the Latrobe Country Club in nearby Latrobe. His ...read more

Mysterious crash at Heathrow

On this day in 1972, a Trident jetliner crashes after takeoff from Heathrow Airport in London, killing 118 people. The official cause of this accident remains unknown, but it may have happened simply because the plane was carrying too much weight. As the summer of 1972 ...read more

Carter and Brezhnev sign the SALT-II treaty

During a summit meeting in Vienna, President Jimmy Carter and Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev sign the SALT-II agreement dealing with limitations and guidelines for nuclear weapons. The treaty, which never formally went into effect, proved to be one of the most controversial ...read more

British abandon Philadelphia

On this day in 1778, after almost nine months of occupation, 15,000 British troops under General Sir Henry Clinton evacuate Philadelphia, the former U.S. capital. The British had captured Philadelphia on September 26, 1777, following General George Washington’s defeats at the ...read more