Sally Ride’s 40th Anniversary

Sally Ride was a mission specialist on STS-7. In this image, she monitors control panels from the pilot's chair on the flight deck.

June 18, 2023, marks a milestone in the history of space exploration as we celebrate the 40th anniversary of Sally Ride’s historic journey into space. On that day in 1983, Sally Ride became the first American woman to venture beyond Earth’s atmosphere, paving the way for future generations.

STS-7: A Pioneering Milestone

Sally Ride’s groundbreaking mission, STS-7, launched on June 18, 1983, aboard the space shuttle Challenger, marking the first time an American woman had traveled into space. During the seven-day mission, Ride and her four male crewmates deployed satellites, conducted experiments and provided initiatives to further the study space.

EarthKam: Capturing Earth’s Wonders from Space

Nile River, close to the Abu Simbel temples captured by EarthKAMOne of those initiatives was EarthKam, short for Earth Knowledge Acquired by Middle school students. Now known as the Sally Ride EarthKam, this active payload enables thousands of students to request images of Earth from a digital camera mounted on-board the International Space Station.

Through EarthKam, students gain a further understanding of our planet, learn about geography, and climate and environmental changes. Since its inception over 1 million students have participated in the EarthKam program, and over a quarter million photos have been taken.  In 2015, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center became the official home of the EarthKam program. The Rocket Center partners with Teledyne Brown Engineering and the University of Alabama in Huntsville to receive requests for images from students and teachers during EarthKam mission, which take place four to five times a year. This educational outreach inspires young minds around the world and serves as a testament to the legacy of Sally Ride.

Honoring the Legacy

As we celebrate the 40th anniversary of Sally Ride’s historic flight, we honor her as a trailblazer and advocate for education and women in space. Her journey continues to serve as an inspiration to individuals around the world, encouraging them to pursue their dreams and shoot for the stars.


Works Cited


NASA. (2018, November 6). Sally Ride (1951-2012) | Astronaut – NASA Solar System Exploration. NASA Solar System Exploration.


STS-7. (2014). National Aeronautics and Space Administration Wiki.


Sally Ride EarthKAM | About ISS EarthKAM. (n.d.).


U.S. Space & Rocket Center. (n.d.). U.S. Space & Rocket Center.