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Wednesday, 24 June 2020


Available for freelance writing commissions on a variety of subjects including family history, nostalgic Belfast and its famous people, shops, shoppers & shopping (40 years in retailing), the golden age of Hollywood (including westerns) and humorous pieces on life's weird and wonderful. Op-eds, columns, non-fiction book reviews too. & @JoeCushnan

I have a portfolio of features, reviews, poetry and short fiction published in all sorts of places - Belfast Telegraph, Tribune, Ireland's Own, Dalhousie Review, Fairlight Books, Reader's Digest, Reality, Lapwing Poetry, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Spillwords, Dear Reader, Amethyst Review, to name a selection.  Oh, and the odd BBC radio contribution. 

This is a series of very short items that have nothing to do with the current news agenda.  Swift diversions for a moment or two.

Apropos of Nothing #67 – 24 June 1983

On 24 June, 1983, America's first woman in space returned safely to Earth in the Challenger space shuttle after a successful six-day flight.  Sally Ride, aged 32, captured the media's attention over the weeks leading up to blast-off on 19 June as the public realised history was in the making.

Ride, a former tennis champion, decided to become an astronaut in 1977 after she saw a Nasa advertisement in the campus newsletter while studying English and physics.  She was one of more than 1,000 women and almost 7,000 men to apply for just 35 places on the 1978 training programme and it was there that she met her husband, fellow astronaut Steve Hawley.

Before blast-off the week before, flight commander Robert Crippen said she had been chosen to fly purely on her skills and not for her gender.

As flight engineer, Ms Ride's main tasks were to monitor the controls and make sure nothing went wrong on ascent and descent.  In space she also had to control a 50ft retractable arm to retrieve a satellite package of experiments.  It was the first time a satellite had been grabbed from space and paved the way for repairing satellites in orbit.

"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," said Robert Crippen.

Sally Ride died at 61 on 23 July, 2012.

Source: BBC

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