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Tennis star and astronaut to help dedicate new Sally Ride postage stamp

The U.S. Postal Service will release a stamp in honor of astronaut Sally Ride on May 23, 2018 in La Jolla, Calif. (USPS/collectSPACE)
March 22, 2018

— The Postmaster General of the United States will join a famous tennis star and the first Hispanic female astronaut to dedicate a new U.S. postage stamp for the late Sally Ride, America's first woman in space.

Billie Jean King, who was friends with Ride, and astronaut Ellen Ochoa, who followed in Ride's footsteps flying on the space shuttle, will take part in the Postal Service's first day of issue ceremony for the Sally Ride stamp on May 23 at the University of California (UC) San Diego.

Postmaster General Megan Brennan, who is also the CEO of the USPS, will lead the dedication ceremony, which will include the participation of Pradeep Khosla, UC San Diego chancellor, and Tam O'Shaughnessy, executive director of Sally Ride Science and Ride's life partner.

"I worked with the Postal Service staff to make sure the portrait on the stamp captures Sally's essence — her cool demeanor, her warm smile, and the mischievous spark in her eyes," said O'Shaughnessy in a statement released by Sally Ride Science. "I am thrilled with the result."

The 5 p.m. ceremony at UC San Diego's The Price Center in La Jolla is free and open to the public.

Billie Jean King (at left) with Sally Ride, who ranked nationally as a tennis player before becoming an astronaut. (Sally Ride Science)

Sally Ride Science will celebrate the stamp dedication with a special discussion on women in leadership. Panelists for their 6:30 p.m. conversation will include King, Ochoa and Condoleezza Rice, the 66th Secretary of State. Journalist Lynn Sherr, who authored the 2014 bestseller "Sally Ride: America's First Woman in Space," will moderate.

"The panelists and moderator are remarkable leaders who have shattered barriers and led the way for women in their fields. This promises to be an exhilarating evening," stated O'Shaughnessy.

The events on May 23 fall two months shy of the six year anniversary of Ride's death of pancreatic cancer at age 61 and 35 years after Ride made history as an astronaut.

Ride was chosen by NASA in 1978 as part of the first class of astronauts to include women. As a mission specialist on STS-7, the second flight of space shuttle Challenger, Ride became the first U.S. woman in space. (She was preceded by two Russian cosmonauts: Valentina Tereshkova in 1963 and Svetlana Savitskaya in 1982.)

Ride flew a second mission, STS-41G, also on Challenger, in October 1984. In total, Ride logged 14 days and 8 hours in space, circling the Earth 230 times.

After retiring from NASA in 1987, Ride went on to become a professor of physics at the University of California, San Diego, and authored several children's science books. She also cofounded Sally Ride Science, a non-profit to promote an interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

Sally Ride, seen aboard space shuttle Challenger, became the first American woman to fly into space on June 18, 1983. (NASA)

The Sally Ride stamp depicts the astronaut at the time of her first spaceflight in June 1983, set against a backdrop of the space shuttle lifting off.

Ride is the second U.S. astronaut to be commemorated on a USPS stamp. In May 2011, the postal service released a stamp in honor of the late Alan Shepard, the first American to fly in space and the fifth human to walk on the moon.

A month prior to the Ride stamp dedication, the USPS will hold a similar ceremony to issue four stamps dedicated to STEM education, including one with the outline of NASA's Apollo spacecraft. The April 6 ceremony at the Washington Convention Center in DC is being held as part of the USA Science & Engineering Festival.

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