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Jazz musician Miles Davis
, a trumpeter who was one of the major influences on jazz from the late 1940s, was born in Alton, Illinois.
Sally Ride, in full Sally Kristen Ride, (born May 26, 1951, Encino, California, U.S.—died July 23, 2012, La Jolla, California), American astronaut, the first American woman to travel into outer space. Only two other women preceded her: Valentina Tereshkova (1963) and Svetlana Savitskaya (1982), both from the former Soviet Union.
Ride showed great early promise as a tennis player, but she eventually gave up her plans to play professionally and attended Stanford University, where she earned bachelor’s degrees in English and physics (1973). In 1978, as a doctoral candidate and teaching assistant in laser physics at Stanford, she was selected by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as one of six women astronaut candidates. She received a Ph.D. in astrophysics and began her training and evaluation courses that same year. In August 1979 she completed her NASA training, obtained a pilot’s license, and became eligible for assignment as a U.S. space shuttle mission specialist. On June 18, 1983, she became the first American woman in space while rocketing into orbit aboard the shuttle orbiter Challenger. The shuttle mission lasted six days, during which time she helped deploy two communications satellites and carry out a variety of experiments. She served on a second space mission aboard Challenger in October 1984; the crew included another woman, Ride’s childhood friend Kathryn Sullivan, who became the first American woman to walk in space. Ride was training for a third shuttle mission when the Challenger exploded after launch in January 1986, a catastrophe that caused NASA to suspend shuttle flights for more than two years. Ride served on the presidential commission appointed to investigate the accident, and she repeated that role as a member of the commission that investigated the in-flight breakup of the orbiter Columbia in February 2003.
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