As you saw in an earlier post, now is a very exciting time for women and girls in space exploration!
On May 20, the White House announced that Sally Ride will be honored with a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States. President Obama said, “We remember Sally Ride not just as a national hero, but as a role model to generations of young women. Sally inspired us to reach for the stars, and she advocated for a greater focus on the science, technology, engineering and math that would help us get there.”
The White House will also putting her name on the camera she helped get installed on the International Space Station. The memorials were announced at a national tribute titled “Sally Ride: A Lifetime of Accomplishment, a Champion of Science Literacy,” held in Washington DC.
Do you have dreams of a similar career? It is not only grown women who can do amazing things to inspire dreams of space exploration. Abigail Harrison, also known as “Astronaut Abby,” is still in high school but she’s already a role model.
In 8th grade, Abigail Harrison created a State History Day Project titled “Debate and Diplomacy: The History of the ISS.” The project, which included elements of both history and science, included Abby’s interviews with astronauts as well as other space professionals, such as International Space Station engineer Susan Freedman. During this project, she created her online presence, “Astronaut Abby.” Abby’s long-term goal is to become not only an astronaut, but the first astronaut to land on Mars. Abby shares her experience of striving for her amazing dream on her blog, Twitter account, and Facebook page, and hopes to inspire other young people to set goals and reach for the stars themselves.
Abby is now a sophomore at South High School in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and still working hard to achieve her dreams of space travel. After a visit to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center a couple of years ago to witness the final launch of the shuttle Endeavor, she met Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano. After this meeting, he became Abby’s mentor. Now she’s collaborating with Parmitano as his “Earth Liaison” during his current mission on the ISS. Abby traveled to watch the May 28th launch in Kazakhstan, which she successfully crowdfunded. You can check out the twitter feed for their outreach project Soyuz Adventure here.
In an interview with the website Women You Should Know, Abby shared her view that “instead of labeling someone as a female scientist or a female astronaut, simply call her a scientist or an astronaut. I think that by changing the way we perceive women in the sciences, which is currently seen as something monumental, and start seeing it as commonplace, we can make a big impact.”
Girl Museum Inc.