The lesbian trailblazing space traveller is one of several American women to be immortalized by the U.S. Mint.
The United States Mint has revealed the design of a new coin that will honor America’s first woman to fly into space, and displayed the official artwork for the first five coins in its new American Women Quarters Program.
As directed by Congress, the four-year program will feature coins with tail-side designs that are commemorate the accomplishments and contributions of trailblazing American women.
One of the first coins to be issued in 2022 will recognize the achievements of the late NASA astronaut Sally Ride. The design of the quarter depicts Ride next to a window on the space shuttle, a rendering that was inspired by her comment “When I wasn’t working, I was usually at a window looking down at Earth.”
An astronaut and physicist with a PhD from Stanford University, Ride was the first American woman in space and the third woman overall, after USSR cosmonauts. Ride was also the youngest American astronaut to have ever traveled to space at the age of 32, until 2021 when 29-year-old Hayley Arceneaux flew on SpaceX’s Inspiration4 mission.
Married to fellow astronaut Steven Hawley during her spaceflight years, Ride was in a long-term relationship with former Women’s Tennis Association player Tam O’Shaughnessy from 1985 to 2012, when she passed away from pancreatic cancer.
Ride is the first space explorer to have been acknowledged as LGBTQ. Among her many career achievements Ride flew aboard the space shuttle Challenger in 1983 and 1984, and after she retired from shuttle missions, continued to advise NASA, she was part of the panel that investigated the 1986 Challenger disaster, and wrote a report recommending NASA establish an outpost on the Moon.
Ride became director of the California Space Institute at UC San Diego, wrote six children’s books about science, and started a company called Sally Ride Science which aimed to encourage women’s career advancement in STEM.
The full list of women honored by the Mint can be found here.