When NASA first opened its doors back in 1958, an entire generation was inspired to dream of becoming an astronaut. Sally Ride could certainly relate to that, as she eventually earned a spot on the Challenger space shuttle in 1983. However, she was taken aback by how little her fellow engineers knew about women.
The 1950s were an intriguing period in American history, as the country faced the USSR in a decades-long battle for scientific supremacy. Indeed, the two superpowers kickstarted what was known as the Space Race in 1955. And two years later, the Soviets earned a significant victory over their rivals.
In October 1957 the USSR launched the very first artificial satellite into space. Sputnik 1 had beaten the Americans to the punch. In response to this and other Soviet accomplishments, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was formed the following year. From here, things really started to heat up.