From the Vault: Roger Mudd’s 1987 Report on Sally Ride
In 1987, Sally Ride retired from NASA to take a job a Stanford University, leaving America’s space program “without a real hero” and “struggling to stay in orbit.”
That’s according to a historic MacNeil/Lehrer report that aired on June 4 of that year, narrated by Roger Mudd. Ride was leaving, the report continued, because “she was unable to convey her views to her agency’s current leadership.”
Sally Ride, who died July 23 at age 61, became the first American woman in space when she flew into orbit on the shuttle Challenger in 1983.
She was a person of modesty, Mudd reported. “She tried to avoid the standard space agency hype, even refusing the bouquet of roses and carnations, because her male crewmates got only a handshake.”
The report also traces NASA’s history, the country’s enthusiasm for spaceflight during the Kennedy and Reagan administrations, and how that enthusiasm — and budget — had waned by 1987.
Ride left NASA that year and returned to Stanford University to become a science fellow at Stanford Center for International Security and Arms Control. During her career, she served on the commission that investigated the Challenger explosion, as well as the commission for the Columbia accident. She founded a company, Sally Ride Science, to encourage science education among young people.