Ride’s two space flights were aboard the doomed shuttle Challenger, and she was eight months deep into her training program for a third flight aboard the shuttle when it tragically exploded in 1986.
Ride learned of that disaster at the worst possible time: she was on a plane when the pilot announced the news.
Ride later told AARP the Magazine that when she heard the midflight announcement, she got out her NASA badge and went to the cockpit so she could listen to radio reports about the fallen shuttle. The disaster meant that Ride wouldn’t make it back into space,but the personal toll was tough to swallow, too.
Four of the lost members of Challenger’s crew had been in Ride’s astronaut training class.