People: Jun. 8, 1987

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She blasted off into history four years ago by becoming the first American woman in space. Now Astronaut Sally Ride, 36, is set to explore the academic frontier. Her new mission: science fellow at the Center for International - Security and Arms Control, a think tank at Stanford University. Ride's switch to the private sector, effective Aug. 15, comes in the wake of her divorce from Astronaut Steven Hawley and reports that the ambitious spacewoman had become restless at NASA. "It was going to be a long time until she flew again," confides a colleague, "and she wasn't particularly turned on even by that." Speaking to reporters on the day of the announcement, Ride called space flight "something that I'm aware most people don't get the chance to do. I'm going to miss it. I am confident of the future of our nation's space program, and will always remember my friends at NASA." And they her. Ride's last assignment for the agency was Project Pathfinder, a study intended to guide the U.S. space program into the 21st century.