GAINESVILLE - . America's first woman in space Thursday told Brenau University women and Gainesville/Hall middle school students to reach for the stars.
Dr. Sally Ride flew aboard the space shuttle Challenger in 1983 and 1984 and investigated its tragic end in 1986.
Ride told her convocation audience at Brenau University that the shuttle would be replaced by the year 2010.
Ride said NASA is working on that replacement, called the Crew Exploration Vehicle.
"It's apt to look like the capsules that flew long ago," she said.
Ride said such a craft could go into Earth orbit or go onto the Moon.
Ride recalled that when she joined the space program there were no women in the Astronaut Corps.
Now she said 25 percent of the Astronauts are female.
"The year that I joined was the first year that they began to accept women, so those obstacles are now completely gone," Dr. Ride said.
"It's wide open to women these days."
Ride told her student audience to study math and science.
"There are lots of cool opportunities for both men and women these days; there are no obstacles to the women, they can go on and do anything they want to do and there is an awful lot of cool stuff that's still left to learn and still left to explore," she added.
Two West Hall Middle School students were among those who listened and learned from Sally Ride.
Thirteen year April Gray heard Sally Ride's message to reach for the stars.
"She inspired me to do something that people don't usually think we can," she said.
Twelve-year-old Corryn Smith got the message about no limits to achievement.
"We can do things that we want to do about science, don't be afraid to do what you want to do," Smith said.
Dr. Ride was also the youngest American in space when she flew in Challenger at age 32.
She was Brenau's second "Women of Impact" visitor as part of the university's 2005-2006 Brenau Success series featuring women of national and international reputation and accomplishment.