Astronaut Sally Ride (b.1951) died on July 23. In 1983, Ride became the first American woman (and youngest at that time) astronaut to fly into space when she flew on Challenger flight STS-7. Prior to that she worked on the development of the shuttle’s robotic arm. She flew on Challenger again in 1984 and was in training for a third flight when Challenger explored. Ride left NASA in 1987 and taught physics. In 2003, she served on the Space Shuttle Columbia Accident Investigation Board.
Engineer Roger Boisjoly (b.1938) died on January 6. Boisjoly worked for Morton Thiokol in 1986 and warned NASA that due to falling temperatures, the O-Rings on the space shuttle Challenger could undergo a catastrophic failure and urged for them to cancel the flight. The next day, his predictions came true when Challenger exploded 73 seconds into its flight.