First female NASA astronaut immortalised as a Barbie

Sally Ride, the first woman sent into space by NASA, has been immortalised in plastic as a Barbie doll.

The pioneering astronaut joined the US space agency in 1978 and ventured into the stars five years later as part of the crew of Space Shuttle Challenger to deploy a couple of communications satellites.

She was just 32 at the time and remains the youngest American to have been to space.

Ride carried out her second mission on the same craft in 1984, and was eight months into her training for a third journey when the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster happened in January 1986.

Sally Ride communicates with ground controllers from the flight deck during the 1983 Challenger mission
Image: Sally Ride communicates with ground controllers from the flight deck during the 1983 Challenger mission

On what was the 10th flight for the orbiter, it broke apart after just 73 seconds and killed all seven crew members.

Ride never made a third trip into space but remained at NASA, and was appointed to a White House commission tasked with investigating the Challenger accident.

She was subsequently deployed to NASA headquarters in Washington and would later find herself investigating another disaster, when Space Shuttle Colombia disintegrated during atmospheric entry in February 2003.

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Her life and achievements have been widely celebrated since her death from pancreatic cancer in July 2012, including having a US Navy research ship and Stanford University house named after her.

Sally Ride pictured at Kennedy Space Centre ahead of the Challenger mission in 1983
Image: Sally Ride pictured at Kennedy Space Centre ahead of the Challenger mission in 1983

In May 2013, the then US president Barack Obama honoured her with the presidential medal of freedom – the highest civilian award in the country.

Toy maker Mattel said her Barbie had been designed in collaboration with her partner Tam O’Shaughnessy and NASA to ensure it accurately represented her legacy.

In its description of the doll, the firm says: “Sally’s adventurous nature, quest for discovery, and pioneering accomplishments inspire girls everywhere to boldly reach for the stars.”

It was unveiled alongside a Rosa Parks doll as part of a series of Barbies to honour inspiring women.

The Sally Ride doll was unveiled alongside one of Rose Parks. Pic: Mattel
Image: The Sally Ride doll was unveiled alongside one of Rose Parks. Pic: Mattel

Civil rights activist Ms Parks was arrested 64 years ago for refusing to give up her seat to white passengers while riding on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama.

Her defiance led to a boycott that eventually led to the end of racial segregation on buses in the US, which until then had forced black people to sit at the back and stand if a white customer did not have a seat.

Source: SKY NEWS

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