The crew of STS-7 eating jellybeans. (NASA)

"The Right Person for the Job"

Ride trains with her class, the Thirty-Five New Guys (TFNG). After a year, Ride and classmate John Fabian are assigned to mastering the space shuttle's 50-foot robotic arm. The giant arm is mounted on the side of the shuttle's cargo bay. It is used to grab and move objects while in space.

In 1982, NASA announces the crew for STS-7. Robert Crippen, the first shuttle pilot, will command. Frederick (Rick) Hauck, a TFNG member, will be pilot. The flight will be the first test of the robotic arm's ability to retrieve a satellite. John Fabian and Sally Ride are chosen as mission specialists.

Even though Ride has a Ph.D. and the same training as the men, some people think she has been picked just because she's a woman. Her shuttle commander, Crippen, disagrees. At a press conference, he says, "She is flying with us because she is the very best person for the job. There is no man I would rather have in her place."

Later, NASA adds medical doctor Norm Thagard to the roster. He will study space sickness. With five astronauts, the STS-7 mission now has the largest crew ever to fly in space.