The 2nd coin in the American Women Quarters Program™ is the Dr. Sally Ride Quarter. Dr. Sally Ride was born in New York on April 18th, 1951. A scientist and astronaut, she worked at NASA for years starting in 1979. After Valentina Tereshkova (1963) and Svetlana Savitskaya (1982), she was the third woman (and first American woman) to reach space in 1983. At 32, Ride was the youngest American astronaut until SpaceX’s Inspiration4 mission in 2021 carried the new youngest, Hayley Arceneaux, into space when she was 29. Ride left NASA in 1987 after having flown twice on the Challenger spacecraft.
Ride then spent two years at the University of California, San Diego, in addition to the Stanford Center for International Security and Arms Control. She was the only individual involved in the Challenger and Columbia disaster investigations. She was also the first openly LGBT astronaut, married another astronaut Steven Hawley, and maintained an intimate relationship with Tam O’Shaughnessy. After battling pancreatic cancer, Ride died on July 23rd, 2012.
During the 1978 NASA astronaut selection process, Ride became the first woman selected for NASA Astronaut Group 8. The newspaper advertisement for the Stanford program attracted 8,000 applications from students. From these applications, she was one of 35 students selected.
She received astronaut training that included parachute jumping, water survival, weightlessness, and radio communication. Flying was so enjoyable for her that it became one of her hobbies outside NASA. She relayed messages from mission control to the space shuttle crew during the second and third flights of the shuttle Columbia. In addition, her team developed robot arms used by shuttle crews to deploy and retrieve satellites.
After graduating from mission training in 1979, she served as a mission specialist on the second and third Space Shuttle flights and played a role in developing the “Canadarm” robot arm used on the shuttle.
She was scrutinized for her gender before her first space flight. At a press conference, Ride was asked about reproductive organs and whether or not she cried when she had a bad day at work. However, Ride was undeterred, fueled by the significance of the mission and her drive to be an astronaut.
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory and UCSD collaborated on two public outreach programs in the late 1990s and early 2000s – ISS EarthKAM and GRAIL MoonKAM. Ride played an instrumental role in the programs, which showed Earth and Moon images to middle school students. She appeared in the final episode of Touched by Angel’s fifth season, entitled “Godspeed.” She served on the Columbia Accident Investigation Board in 2003. In addition, she was CEO and president of Sally Ride Science, a non-profit organization that develops scientific programs and publications for elementary and middle school girls.
A former engineer who had predicted Challenger’s technical problems told Roger Boisjoly that only Ride had remained supportive after Morton-Thiokol’s workers turned against him. As an expression of her support for his efforts, Sally Ride publicly hugged him.
Ride wrote or co-wrote seven books about space to inspire children to study science.
During the 2008 U.S. presidential election, she supported Barack Obama. She served on the Committee for Review of the United States Human Spaceflight Plans, led by the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).
She has been honored with countless awards during her lifetime and garnered recognition even after her death. The National Space Society, NCAA, and Lindbergh Eagle Foundation have presented her with awards; she has also won the von Braun Award. NASA presented her with a Space Flight Medal and inducted her into the Astronaut Hall of Fame and the National Women’s Hall of Fame. Sally Ride Elementary School in Germantown is named after her, as is Sally Ride Elementary School in Texas. She returned to her native Canada after being inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 2007.
Gravity on the moon was measured by twin satellites (Ebb and Flow) as part of the GRAIL mission; when the probes crashed to the moon in 2012, Sally Ride was honored by NASA, which named the landing site after her. The Space Foundation also presented Ride with the General James E. Hill Lifetime Achievement Award in December 2012.
A U.S. Navy research ship was named Ride in April 2013. The oceanographic research vessel RV Sally Ride was then christened in 2014. Sally Ride was honored by President Obama at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington when he awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom on May 20th, 2013. In November 2013, the White House presented the medal to Tam O’Shaughnessy, her life partner. Additionally, the July 2013 issue of Flying magazine ranked Ride 50th on its “51 Heroes of Aviation list.”
Chicago’s Legacy Walk has added the Pride Ride to an outdoor exhibit celebrating LGBT culture and history.
Dr. Ride was honored with a first-class stamp by the U.S. Postal Service in 2018.
Serra House in Lucie Stern Hall, Stanford University’s residence hall, has been renamed the Sally Ride House.
Tierna Davidson wore a jersey with Sally Ride’s name on the back during the first match of the 2019 Women’s World Cup season.
Dr. Sally Ride will be one of five honorees of the 2022 American Women Quarter series. An LGBT person has never appeared on U.S. currency before.
Sculptor and composer Laura Gardin Fraser created the heads on the obverse (front) of this coin to commemorate George Washington’s 200th birthday. John Flannigan designed the 1932 quarter following a recommendation from Treasury Secretary Mellon.
Dr. Sally Ride is depicted looking down at Earth from a space shuttle window on the reverse, an image inspired by her own words: “When I wasn’t working, I was usually at a window, looking down at Earth.” Along with this is the Latin inscription “E Pluribus Unum,” recognizing her status as the first female astronaut of the United States
In God We Trust
United States of America
E Pluribus Unum
Composition in Proof & Business Strike: 91.67% Copper & 8.33% Nickel
Composition in Silver Proof: 99.9 Fine Silver
Clad Weight: 5.670 grams
Silver Weight: 5.641 grams
Edge: Reeded & Number of Reeds: 119
American Women Quarter Artist Information
Obverse Design: Laura Gardin Fraser (1889-1966)
Reverse Design: Sculptor Phebe Hemphill, Medallic Artist
Designer: Elana Hagler, Artistic Infusion Program