In 1983, Sally Ride became the first American woman to travel to space. Her accomplishment came two decades after Russia had sent the first woman to space in 1963. It was a progressive step for NASA, but unfortunately, the rest of the country wasn't so forward-thinking about it. In an interview with Gloria Steinem after the mission, Ride talked about her interactions with the press leading up to the launch and the sexist questions she was asked to answer.
"They didn't care about how well prepared I was to operate the [Space Shuttle] arm."
"Really the only bad moments in our training involved the press," Ride recounted in the interview, which was featured on this week's episode of Blank on Blank by PBS. "Whereas NASA appeared to be very enlightened about flying women astronauts, the press didn't appear to be." Ride said she was asked if she was concerned about the bathroom facilities in just about every interview she did. The press was also curious if she was taking up any makeup with her into space, and once Ride was asked if she cried when there were malfunctions in the flight simulator. It's eerily reminiscent of a similar line of questioning a group Russian women cosmonauts received before a test mission last year.
"They didn't care about how well prepared I was to operate the [Space Shuttle] arm or deploy communication satellites," Ride said.
Check out the highlights of Ride's interview above, accompanied by creative animations. Ride also details her interests growing up, how her all-girls school didn't offer science classes, and what it felt like to feel the Shuttle engines ignite underneath her for the first time.