Sally Ride was the first American woman to go to space, blasting off on the Space Shuttle Challenger on June 18, 1983, mere months before I was born. She has been an inspiration my entire life, both as a woman and a scientist. I am terribly saddened by her passing on July 23, 2012, but I hope her family and friends are comforted to know that her 17 month battle with pancreatic cancer ended peacefully.
Sally is survived by her mother, sister, niece, nephew, and her partner of 27 years, Tam O'Shaughnessy. Although friends and family knew she was gay, Sally kept her sexual orientation out of the public eye.
This week, I've been co-hosting the second hour of The Young Turks online with Cenk Uygur, and I wanted to take a moment to pay tribute to Sally. We also discussed the rights her partner may be refused since they were not allowed to be legally married. Please watch the video above to learn more.
Thank you, Sally. You will be missed.
First American Woman In Space
On June 18, 1983, Sally Ride became the first American woman in space. The California-born physicist, then 32, was also the youngest American astronaut at the time. Ride went into orbit aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger.
French scientists announced the isolation of the element boron (atomic number 5) on June 21, 1808. Louis-Joseph Gay-Lussac and Louis-Jacques Thenard reported their discovery just nine days before an English chemist announced similar research.
UFO Crash Dismissed
On June 24, 1997, the U.S. Air Force released a report officially dismissing claims that a UFO had crashed in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947. The document, "The Roswell Report, Case Closed," denied any evidence of an alien landing at the site, claiming the widely reported "crash" was actually nothing more than a government program that was testing parachutes.
Moon Of Pluto Discovered
Charon, the largest moon of the dwarf planet Pluto, was discovered on June 22, 1978 by astronomer James Christy. Charon, which is covered in ice and has no atmosphere, was named after Christy's wife, Charlene.
Alaskan Pipeline Goes On Line
On June 20, 1977, the 800-mile trans-Alaska oil pipeline began delivering oil from Alaska's North Slope. Though criticized for its impact on a delicate ecosystem, the pipeline is considered an epic feat of engineering.
Landmark Creationism Ruling
The U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Louisiana "Creationism Act" on June 19, 1987. The law had prevented the teaching of evolution in public schools unless teachers also taught biblical creationism. Justice William J. Brennan (pictured here) led the 7-2 decision, now considered a major stride for science education in public schools.
The first manned private spaceflight occurred on June 21, 2004, when Mike Melvill piloted SpaceShipOne to an altitude of 62 miles. Built by Burt Rutan and Paul Allen, the one-of-a-kind craft garnered the $10-million Ansari X Prize.
On June 22, 1633, Italian physicist and astronomer Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) was forced to repudiate his heliocentric theory of the solar system, which says that the Earth orbits the sun. First proposed by Copernicus, the theory was considered heresy by church authorities in Rome.
Darwin's Tortoise Dies
On June 23, 2006, a tortoise believed to have been captured by Charles Darwin in the Galapagos Islands died of of heart failure at an Australian zoo. The celebrated reptile--whose age at death was estimated to be 175 years--was considered a national treasure, and was cared for by famous "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin.
Way Before The MacBook...
On June 23, 1868, American inventor Christopher Latham Sholes received a patent for his "Type-Writer" machine. The machine described in the patent helped spark a revolution in communications. Sholes is also credited with the QWERTY keyboard layout.
River On Fire
The Cuyahoga River caught on fire in Cleveland on June 22, 1969. The river, which had been used as a dumping ground for local industrial plants in the area, was likely sparked by a passing train. Outrage over the fire helped fuel the nascent environmental movement.