Can Holiday: Sally Ride Day – May 26


Unknown, however May 26 was chosen because Sally Ride was born on May 26, 1951. Sally Ride was the first American woman and remains the youngest American to go into space. She did so aboard Space Shuttle Challenger (STS-7) on June 18, 1983. Before joining NASA, Sally was also a nationally recognized tennis player.

Crew of STS-51-F

Crew of STS-7.
(Sally Ride at far left)

During her lifetime, she earned her Master’s and Ph.D. in physics, was a college professor, founded Sally Ride Science, wrote 5 children’s books, and consulted with NASA on many projects including investigation of the Space Shuttle Challenger and Columbia accidents. Recently, in May 2013, Dr. Sally Ride was posthumously honored by President Obama with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

How to Celebrate

Celebration of Sally Ride Day can be done by learning more about space and more specifically Dr. Sally Ride. You can learn many things about her and her legacy at Sally Ride Science. You can also listen to Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” which has the lyrics, “Sally Ride” and “Cola Wars” in the same verse.

The Cans

1985 Pepsi Space Can

1985 Pepsi Space Can

To celebrate this day, we selected two cans. Both cans were specially designed and flown aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger (STS-51-F) from July 30 – August 6, 1985. This took place during the “Cola Wars” between Coke and Pepsi. The experiment was considered a failure partly because of lack of refrigeration and gravity. The soda fizzed excessively in microgravity making it difficult to drink. Post-flight the astronauts conceded that they preferred Tang. Both cans were made from steel, have caps attached by string and had Velcro attached to secure the can to different places during zero gravity.

1985 Coke Space Can

1985 Coke Space Can
(Source: Powerhouse Museum. Used via Creative Commons.)

The Coke can has an off-white top with a nozzle for zero gravity drinking. There was a label of instructions on the top about how to drink it. The can itself is a plain Coke design. The Pepsi can looks like a small can of Reddi-Whip. Again, it was designed for zero gravity. On this can, Pepsi had a little fun with the design. At the top is the logo for the Young Astronaut Program. Below the logo, are the words, “Pepsi-Cola Celebrates Our First Flight in Space. July 1985. One Giant Sip For Mankind”.

Happy Sally Ride Day (5/26)!

Photos used by permission of