Stamps and Blue Origin toys pay tribute to Sally Ride, 35 years after space milestone

The first American woman in space, Sally Ride, is the subject of serious and playful memorials today, 35 years after her historic flight and nearly six years after her death.

A U.S. postage stamp bearing Ride’s visage went on sale last month, and last year, a Sally Ride minifigure was released as part of a “Women of NASA” set of Lego toys.

Blue Origin, the space venture founded by Amazon millionaire Jeff Bezos, marked today’s anniversary by showing off a Lego set that flew to space and back on the company’s New Shepard suborbital spaceship:

In addition to Ride, the space-flown toy set included minifigs representing Mae Jemison, the first black woman astronaut to go into orbit; Margaret Hamilton, who developed the onboard flight software for the Apollo missions; and Nancy Grace Roman, known as the “Mother of Hubble” for her role in planning the Hubble Space Telescope.

A shiny New Shepard crew capsule, outfitted with moody-blue interior lights and festooned with a feather on its exterior, served as the backdrop for Blue Origin’s tweeted picture. Blue Origin has conducted seven successful uncrewed test flights of its fully reusable New Shepard spaceship, and is aiming to start flying people by the end of this year.

Blue Origin wasn’t the only outfit commemorating the spaceflying scientist’s achievements. Here’s a selection of Twitter tributes:

Ride’s launch came on June 18, 1983, aboard the space shuttle Challenger, and flew again on the same shuttle a year later. When Challenger and its crew were lost in an explosion in 1986, Ride served on the investigation board for the accident.

Ride left NASA in 1987, became a physics professor at the University of California at San Diego and eventually co-founded Sally Ride Science, a nonprofit organization focusing on science education for girls.

She also kept up ties with NASA through the space agency’s tragedies and transitions: In 2003, she was on the accident investigation board for the Columbia tragedy, and in 2009, she served on a presidential commission that reviewed NASA’s vision for human spaceflight.

Ride died in 2012 at the age of 61 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

Today’s anniversary of Sally Ride’s first spaceflight isn’t this month’s only milestone in the history of spacefaring women. Saturday marked exactly 55 years since Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova was launched into orbit as the first woman in space.

Putin and TereshkovaPutin and Tereshkova
Russian President Vladimir Putin chats with Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman to fly in space. (Kremlin Photo)

Tereshkova is now 81 and serves as a deputy in the State Duma, the lower house of Russia’s parliament. Over the weekend, she received in-person congratulations from Russian President Vladimir Putin — and what sounded like an extraordinary offer, even if it was meant in jest:

Putin: “Ms. Tereshkova, please accept my sincere congratulations on this anniversary – 55 years of your spaceflight.”

Tereshkova: “Thank you very much. It is unbelievable how much time has elapsed!”

Putin: “I would like to say in this regard that you are not only the world’s first female cosmonaut, I think you remain the only female cosmonaut and astronaut who has made a solo flight: All the other women were crew members.”

Tereshkova: “Could I also be a crew member so as to explore all the possibilities?”

Putin: “Would you like to make another flight?”

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