The second statue of Sally Ride, the first US woman in space, will be unveiled at the Reagan Library

In June 1983, just 17 days before becoming the first American woman to launch into space, Sally Ride joined then-President Ronald Reagan for a walk on the north lawn of the White House. Now, 40 years later, the two will “meet” again, albeit in a different but no less prestigious courtyard.

A life-size statue of the astronaut will be unveiled at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, California. The unveiling, at the entrance to the outdoor Peace Plaza, is part of festivities planned for the Reagan Presidential Foundation’s annual Fourth of July celebration at 12:00 pm PDT (1900 GMT) on Tuesday, July 4.

“When unveiled, this statue will be a wonderful addition to the Reagan Library grounds,” Randle Swan, supervising curator and acting assistant director of the Reagan Presidential Library and Museum, told collectSPACE. “Dr. Sally Ride was an American hero and humble explorer who sought to expand science and human knowledge.”

“The location of her likeness is in full view of the western sky, nestled under some shady trees in full view of the Pacific Ocean and within walking distance of the F-117 Stealth and F-14 [aircraft] on static display,” Swan said.

Though still hidden in California, an identical statue already stands in Garden City, New York. In June 2022, the Cradle of Aviation Museum revealed the monument to Ride created by Colorado-based sculptors and brothers George and Mark Lundeen, in collaboration with fellow artist Joey Bainer.

Related: Photo of Sally Ride, the first American woman in space

President Ronald Reagan walks with astronaut Sally Ride and her crewmates across the north lawn of the White House on June 1, 1983, 17 days before the launch of STS-7. (Image credit: National Archives)

The statue depicts Ride in the onboard suits she wore on the space shuttle Challenger to become America’s first female astronaut and only the third woman in the world to launch into space on June 18, 1983. The bronze sculpture depicts Ride stepping forward holding a model of his winged spaceship.

Although Ride never visited the Cradle of Aviation, the shuttle wings and flight control surfaces were built by Grumman (now Northrop Grumman) in nearby Bethpage, New York. In California, the connection to Ride is both his home state and the fact that Reagan was president when he made his two space flights.

“You and that white spaceship you fly represent the hope of the future,” Reagan said, addressing Ride and his four STS-7 crew members as they attended a press conference at the White House on June 1, 1983.

According to a plaque placed next to the new statue, the tribute to Ride at the Reagan Library was sponsored by a number of donors, including Northrop Grumman, former First Lady of California Maria Shriver, the family of the late Mercury and Gemini astronaut Gordon Cooper and Ride’s family (Ride died of pancreatic cancer in 2012 at the age of 61).

A statue of Sally Ride, the first American woman to fly in space, was unveiled at the Cradle of Aviation Museum in New York City on June 17, 2022. A duplicate of the sculpture will be unveiled at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum. (Image credit: LSB Photography / Cradle of Aviation Museum)


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