Medal, AIAA Lawrence Sperry Award (and case), Sally Ride

Display Status:

This object is not on display at the National Air and Space Museum. It is either on loan or in storage.

Collection Item Summary:

This Lawrence Sperry Award from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) was presented to Dr. Sally K. Ride. The award is given annually to a young person, age 35 or younger, who has made a notable advancement in aeronautics or astronautics. Ride was honored in January 1984 for her "outstanding" performance during STS-7, including her skillful use of a robotic arm to capture a free-flying satellite, and for her "pioneering" contribution as the first American woman in space.

A physicist with a Ph.D., Ride joined the astronaut corps in 1978 as a part of the first class of astronauts recruited specifically for the Space Shuttle Program. Her second and last space mission was STS-41G in 1984. Viewed as a leader in the NASA community, she served on the Rogers Commission after the Challenger disaster in 1986 as well as the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) in 2003. She also led the task force that produced a visionary strategic planning report in 1987 titled, “NASA Leadership and America’s Future in Space,” but known popularly as the Ride Report.

After she retired from NASA in 1987, Dr. Ride taught first at Stanford and later at the University of California, San Diego. Until her death in 2012, she was president and CEO of Sally Ride Science, a company that promoted science education.

Dr. Ride’s partner, Dr. Tam O’Shaughnessy, donated the medal to the Museum in 2013.