Looking Closer at Sally Ride’s Flight Jacket

Posted on Sat, May 26, 2018
  • by: Hillary Brady, Digital Experiences
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On June 18, 1983, NASA astronaut Sally K. Ride took off on a six-day mission aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger, becoming the first American woman in space. During her time at NASA, Ride and other astronauts wore this style of bright blue jacket to work or for public appearances. If you take a closer look, Ride’s flight jacket helps tell her groundbreaking story of spaceflight.

View of Sally Ride’s Flight Jacket

This flight jacket belonged to Dr. Sally K. Ride, who became the first American woman in space when she flew on the STS-7 shuttle mission in 1983.

  • Below the NASA logo on Ride’s left hand side, is her leather nametag. The nametag shows the mission on which Ride earned her astronaut wings, STS-7 in 1983. On their in-flight suits, astronauts decided what was printed on their nametags; Ride just went with “Sally.”
  • On the right side of the jacket, the round patch signifies that Ride was one of 35 astronauts selected for the first Space Shuttle program in 1978. This astronaut class was a record-breaking one. Among the 34 other astronauts were Guy Bluford, the first African American in space, and Ellison Onizuka, the first Asian American in space.
  • The patch on the right arm of the jacket is the mission patch for Ride’s second trip to space, STS-41G in 1984—the first mission to include two women, Ride and Kathryn D. Sullivan. (If you look closely, you can see their last names printed on the mission patch.)

At the Museum, Ride’s story is told through more than just her jacket. More than 180 other items and 40 cubic feet of her personal papers are part of our collection, spanning her early childhood, to her time as a NASA astronaut, to her role as the head of the Sally Ride Science nonprofit.