July 5, 2023 — Sally Ride, the pioneering woman who made history as America’s first female astronaut, now proudly stands on the expansive grounds of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in California. On Tuesday (July 4), a remarkable Sally Ride sculpture was unveiled as part of an Independence Day celebration.
Joined by her 99-year-old mother, Joyce, members of the Ride family took part in the revealing of this larger-than-life sculpture. Set against the picturesque backdrop of Simi Valley’s rolling hills, the statue is prominently displayed at the entrance of the library’s outdoor Peace Plaza.
“With immense joy and deep gratitude, the Ride family joins you today in commemorating the unveiling of Sally’s statue. As her younger sister, I always felt she stood seven feet tall, and now I have visual confirmation,” remarked Karen “Bear” Ride to the intimate gathering surrounding the statue. “Here we stand, looking down upon our old home in the San Fernando Valley, remembering Sally and celebrating her as a true trailblazer and a hero to many.”
The bronze artwork captures Ride in mid-stride, reaching out with her right arm to lift a scale model of the space shuttle Challenger into the air. Depicted as she appeared 40 years ago, the statue showcases her wearing the NASA coveralls and flight jacket that she donned during her groundbreaking first launch.
“Sally Ride was a pioneer of extraordinary significance within a space agency filled with trailblazers,” said David Trulio, president and CEO of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute. “On June 18, 1983, this native Californian shattered the gender barrier by becoming the first American woman in space, embarking on the Challenger’s STS-7 mission alongside four male crewmates.” Ride’s historic missions, including her second spaceflight the following year, coincided with President Reagan’s tenure. She met with him before and after her journeys and later served on the commission he appointed to investigate the tragic 1986 Challenger disaster that claimed the lives of the seven-member STS-51L crew just 73 seconds after liftoff.
“Throughout his presidency, Reagan passionately championed space exploration, recognizing its significance not only for scientific discovery and technological progress but also for global leadership and national pride,” stated Trulio. “Reagan firmly believed that America had a unique responsibility to explore the frontiers of space, inspiring future generations and advancing the cause of human progress.”
“It is for these reasons and more that we are incredibly honored to unveil the statue of Sally Ride on our campus today,” he concluded.
In addition to the sally ride sculpture, the event showcased the debut performance of a song dedicated to Sally Ride. Fourteen-year-old Alexis Silva, whose father Izzy played a pivotal role as the lead donor for the statue’s placement at the library, took center stage to perform her original single, “Meant To Fly.” The song’s opening lyrics set the tone: “I can sense the tremors beneath my feet, the countdown reaching one. I know something awaits out there, closer to the radiant Sun.”
Silva collaborated on the song with Damon Elliott, an Academy Award-nominated record producer and the son of Grammy Award-winning singer Dionne Warwick. Elliott also provided support for the statue through his KIND Music Academy, where Silva is a student.
“We plan to release the song toward the end of this month,” Elliott revealed. “We sincerely hope that the Ride family appreciates our heartfelt tribute.”
The statue received additional backing from activist Gloria Steinham, the Northrop Grumman Foundation, former California First Lady Maria Shriver, and the family of Mercury and Gemini astronaut Gordon Cooper, among others.