SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — Sally Ride, the first American woman to fly in space, died Monday after battling pancreatic cancer. She not only made history with her historic space flight in 1983. She inspired other women to reach for the stars.
Women like Cady Coleman. The Shelburne Falls resident and UMass grad is a veteran of three space shuttle missions.
Coleman is in Houston these days training other astronauts headed for the International Space Station. She told us by phone Wednesday afternoon, that it never occurred to her to become an astronaut until she met Sally Ride at MIT.
Coleman says, “I thought, wow, I want that job. And just being able to relate to her, being someone who looks a little bit like me, you know, another woman majoring in science.”
Cady Coleman says that meeting with Sally Ride inspired her and “gave me the courage to call people on the phone who are astronauts and say, I’m trying to prepare for this job, what can I do to be better prepared? So she was instrumental in the fact that I have this job today.”
Along with more than fifty other women in the astronaut core. Coleman told me, “I think it’s amazing that when I tell people that I flew with the first woman commander of the space shuttle, I would say in the elementary schools, they just kind of look at me, so why is that so different? And it’s because to them, it actually seems normal that’s somebody’s Mom would go to space.”
And as far as Sally Rides legacy, Coleman says, “She didn’t set out to be the first woman astronaut. She set out to be part of the team to explore the universe. And she got to be part of that team because she was ready, because she was prepared. And the legacy that she leaves is her legacy of education.”