A biography of Sally Ride, America’s first female astronaut, will be published in 2013, Simon & Schuster announced Tuesday. Ride died at age 61 of pancreatic cancer just eight days ago.
The as-yet-untitled book will be written by journalist Lynn Sherr, who spent more than 30 years with ABC News, covered the space shuttle program for ABC from 1981 to 1986 and got to know Ride through her work.
Ride was not recruited to be an astronaut — she was one of 8,300 people who answered a want ad. After leaving the space program, Ride became involved in encouraging young women to study science. She wrote five children’s books about science and founded the company Sally Ride Science in 2001.
“The impact of Sally Ride and women like her cannot be overestimated,” said Amy Mainzer, an astrophysicist who is a principal scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge. “She was an ‘existence proof,’” Mainzer told The Times. “She proved that it was possible to work in space physics and as a space scientist and be female at the same time. What she did was prove that you could make it all the way to the top and accomplish amazing things in these fields — and still have a pair of ovaries.”
In a statement, Sherr explained the coming biography. “It’s not only Sally’s life story — the girl from California who was supposed to be a tennis pro but shot for the stars instead — but it’s what made her special. She worked extremely hard to get it right at NASA, and she intuitively grasped the significance of her breakthrough as the first American woman in space as a catalyst for inspiring girls to learn about science and math, and how it would make the world a better place. And she had so much fun doing it.”
Family, friends, fellow crew members and Ride’s partner of 27 years, Tam O’Shaughnessy, will be working with Sherr to tell Ride’s story.