(electronic instrumental music) (tape rewinding) - [Sally] Ever been to Disneyland?
That was definitely an E ticket.
- [Voiceover] Shuttle Control Houston.
That was Mission Specialist Sally Ride comparing her flight to Disneyland.
- [Sally] I wish that there had been another woman on my flight.
I wish that two of us had gone up together.
I think it would have been a lot easier.
- [Gloria] It’s tough being the first, but you’ve done it with incredible grace.
You also have the only job in the world that everybody understands.
(laughing) - [Sally] My father, I think, was so grateful when I became an astronaut because he did not understand astrophysicist.
He couldn’t relate to that at all, but astronaut was something he felt he understood.
- [Gloria] But you could see people all over the world connecting with what you were doing.
- [Sally] Roughly half the people in the world would love to be astronauts, would give anything to trade places with you, and the other half just can’t understand why in the world you would do something that stupid.
(upbeat instrumental music) - [Gloria] You don’t have 20-20 vision, can you become an astronaut candidate?
I always thought that was a big disabling factor.
- [Sally] I think it used to be.
Now as long as it’s correctable to 20-20, it’s okay.
So you’d probably qualify.
(laughing) (upbeat instrumental music) I didn’t have any dreams about being an astronaut at all and I don’t understand that because as soon as the opportunity was open to me, I jumped at it.
And I instantly realized that that was what I really wanted to do.
I took all the science classes that I could all the way through junior high school and into high school.
I went to a girls’ school that really didn’t have a strong science program at all when I was there.
At the time it was a classic school for girls, with a good tennis team and a good English teacher and essentially no math past eleventh grade and no physics and no chemistry.
- [Gloria] I’m curious about the reception that you got inside NASA.
What kind of thing happened to you?
- [Sally] Really the only bad moments in our training involved the press.
The press was an added pressure on the flight for me and whereas NASA appeared to be very enlightened about flying women astronauts, the press didn’t appear to be.
The things that they were concerned with were not the same things that I was concerned with.
- [Gloria] For instance, the bathroom facilities.
- [Sally] The bathroom facilities.
- [Gloria] How much did you get asked that?
- [Sally] Just about every interview I got asked that.
Everybody wanted to know about what kind of makeup I was taking up.
They didn’t care about how well-prepared I was to operate the arm or deploy communications satellites.
- [Gloria] Did NASA try to prepare you for the press and the pressure?
- [Sally] Unfortunately, no, they don’t.
You know, in my case, they took a graduate student in physics who had spent her life in the basement of a physics department with oscilloscopes and suddenly put me in front of the press.
(upbeat instrumental music) - [Gloria] What do you suppose are the dumbest kinds of questions you’ve been asked to date?
- [Sally] Without a doubt, I think the worst question that I have gotten was whether I cried when we got malfunctions in the simulator.
- [Gloria] That surpassed even the one about whether you’re going to wear a bra or not.
Did somebody really ask you that?
- [Sally] No.
The press, I think, decided that that was a good question for someone to have asked me and for me to have answered but I never got that question.
- [Gloria] And they made you up quite a good response.
Something about "in a state of weightlessness "it doesn’t matter," or something like that?
- [Sally] Yeah, it was something like that.
- [Gloria] They made up this whole thing?
- [Sally] Yeah, I was never asked that question.
(upbeat instrumental music) - [Gloria] What about your feelings during the launch?
Was there any time that the enormity of what was going on came over you?
- [Sally] The moment of the launch, when the engines actually ignited and the solid rockets lit, everyone on the crew was, for a few seconds, just overcome with what was about to happen to us.
But a year of training is a long time.
A year of sitting in simulators and being told exactly what’s going to happen.
And you hear the sounds and you feel the vibrations.
And they prepare you very well and it worked.
We were able to overcome being overcome and do the things that we were supposed to do.
- [Gloria] Just watching there at the launch, there were people with tears streaming down their faces, people I never would have expected and yet they were all very moved by, I guess, the human audacity of it.
- [Sally] I think that to imagine, when you see the long trail of flame, and then to imagine that there are really people inside that, that’s really something.
Inside, of course, you don’t see the long trail of flame and what you’re feeling is really more of an exhilaration.
- [Gloria] Well, there are lots of people looking up there feeling proud, not only of you up there but also on the ground.
- [Sally] Thank you.
(inspirational instrumental music) - [Gloria] What do you think it might be like in 2001, in fact?
What’s possible for us?
- [Sally] Well, 2001 is a long ways in the future to speculate on, but probably the next step after the space shuttle is gonna be to be a space station.
I would foresee a space station as being not just something that is orbiting the earth and used for experimentation or whatever, but would also be used as a launching platform back to the Moon or to Mars.
And I think both of those are inevitable.
I’m sure we’ll go back to the Moon and I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before we send people to Mars.
- [Gloria] Do you have any speculation about how long it might be perhaps before there are such things as peopled space colonies?
- [Sally] I’d guess that probably by the year 2000 there will be.
I think that we’ll have a space station by the end of this decade.
- [Gloria] On which it would be possible to live for long periods of time?
- [Sally] Yes.
(upbeat instrumental music)