Today in History: The First American woman in space, 1983
In 1983 the space shuttle Challenger was launched into space on its second mission. Sally Kristen Ride was an American physicist and astronaut. Ride joined NASA in 1978 and at the age of 32, became the first American woman to enter into low Earth orbit in 1983, she was also the youngest astronaut to be launched into space.
During the six-day mission, Ride, an astrophysicist from Stanford University, operated the shuttle’s robot arm, which she had helped design.
Her historic journey was preceded almost 20 years to the day by cosmonaut Valentina V. Tereshkova of the Soviet Union, who on June 16, 1963, became the first woman ever to travel into space. The United States had screened a group of female pilots in 1959 and 1960 for possible astronaut training but later decided to restrict astronaut qualification to men. In 1978, NASA changed its policy and announced that it had approved six women to become the first female astronauts in the U.S. space program.
Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4