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15 Out-of-This-World Facts About Forbidden Planet

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The iconic sci-fi adventure Forbidden Planet is celebrating its 60th anniversary today. Featuring stunning visual effects for its day and the beloved genre icon Robby the Robot, the film followed the exploits of the C-57D, an earth ship sent to Altair 4 to find out what happened to a colony mission sent there 20 years earlier. Led by Commander John J. Adams (Leslie Nielsen), the team discovers that only Dr. Morbius (Walter Pidgeon) and his teenage daughter Altaira (Anne Francis) survived a deadly attack by an unknown entity. That strange being returns once the crew has arrived, and they fend off its invisible attacks while attempting to convince Dr. Morbius to share the amazing, mind-powered technology from the extinct Krell race that he has discovered on the planet.

In honor of its anniversary, here are 15 fun facts about this legendary film.

1. FORBIDDEN PLANET WAS HOLLYWOOD'S FIRST TIME GOING COMPLETELY OUT OF THIS WORLD.

While plenty of previous science fiction films had earthlings exploring other worlds, Forbidden Planet was the first film to be set entirely on a foreign planet. While there are plenty of outdoor sequences in the film, all of them were shot indoors on a studio soundstage, while many exterior landscape shots are comprised of colorful and detailed matte paintings.

2. THE SOUNDTRACK WAS GROUNDBREAKING.

Forbidden Planet was the first movie to have an entirely electronic score; it was composed by Bebe and Louis Barron, who were pioneers in the field of electronic music and musique concrète. Their otherworldly sounds, both as atmospheric ambience and for special effects, imbued the film with an uneasy tension beyond the onscreen action and dialogue, especially during the tour of the Krell wonders underground. Mass audiences had not heard anything like it before.

3. THE SOUNDTRACK WAS ALSO CONTROVERSIAL.

Because the Barrons did not belong to the Musicians Union, their original intended screen credit for Forbidden Planet, "Electronic Music by Louis and Bebe Barron," was changed to "Electronic Tonalities" thanks to a dispute with the American Federation of Musicians over union regulations. Sadly, their work on the film was then unable to be considered for an Oscar. The couple did go on to score independent films and Broadway musicals, so at least the fruits of their labor were rewarded in other ways.

4. ROBBY THE ROBOT WAS RELATED TO WASHING MACHINES.

Robby's main designer and uncredited builder, Robert Kinoshita, distilled thousands of drawings conceived over five weeks by a team of five men into the iconic design that we know and love today. Prior to working in film, Kinoshita had designed washing machines, so while Robby had an anthropomorphic design in his upper regions, his chest and legs resembled a washing machine tub. No word on whether Robby does laundry, although he did appear in a dream sequence on an episode of Hazel as a maid.

5. ROBERT KINOSHITA DESIGNED ANOTHER ICONIC ROBOT.

That electronic entity being, of course, The Robot from the '60s sci-fi series Lost In Space. While their design was somewhat different, the two cybernetic companions shared a similar "talk box," a display that lit up in tandem with the rhythm of their speech. Robby actually guest starred on three episodes of Lost In Space.

6. ROBBY GOT A SPIN-OFF MOVIE A YEAR LATER.

After the success of Forbidden Planet, screenwriter Cyril Hume was re-enlisted to come up with an earthbound movie in which Robby, brought to our world through a time warp, was reanimated by the bratty son of a scientist/mathematician involved with a government supercomputer that seeks to control the planet via satellite. The result was The Invisible Boy. (Which is awful. Save that 90 minutes of your life.)

7. ROBBY RACKED UP A LOT OF OTHER CREDITS.

Forbidden Planet made its lovable bucket of bolts a star, and throughout his career Robby racked up more than two dozen film and TV credits, including The Invisible Boy, The Thin Man (TV series), Lost In Space, The Twilight Zone, Wonder Woman, Mork and Mindy, and Gremlins. He has also done TV spots for Charmin, AT&T, and General Electric (that last one in 2012).

8. SIGMUND FREUD WAS AN INSPIRATION FOR THE STORY.

SPOILER ALERT for this fact: There is a reference to one third of Sigmund Freud's structural model of the psyche, the Id, the part of the unconscious mind that represents our primal needs and desires. In Forbidden Planet, the Id Monster that attacks the crew of the C-57D is conjured directly out of the subconscious mind of Dr. Morbius and generated by the mind-powered Krell technology that he studies and worships.

9. THE NARRATOR MENTORED CAPTAIN MARVEL.

The film's opening narrator Les Tremayne appeared onscreen as the Mentor to Billy Batson/Captain Marvel in the 1970s TV show Shazam!, which was based on the DC Comics title of the same name. Billy and his Mentor traveled around the country to help people in need. All Billy had to do was say the magic word "Shazam!" to be transformed into the mighty Captain Marvel.

10. FORBIDDEN PLANET REFLECTED THE SEXISM OF THE TIME.

When three of the crewmen meet Dr. Morbius' naive 19-year-old daughter Altaira for the first time, they all entertain thoughts of conquering her. Lt. Jerry Farman takes advantage of her innocence early by teaching her to kiss, for which he is chastised by Commander Adams, who later seduces her (after lecturing her on her skimpy wardrobe). Given the fact that these men are on an investigatory mission and are there to help any survivors of the original search party, this is rather exploitative. Yet Altaira's father does not seem concerned.

11. TWO FAMED '70S TV ACTORS MADE EARLY APPEARANCES IN THE MOVIE.

The starship's communications offer was played by Richard Anderson, who would later become well known for his role as Oscar Goldman on The Six Million Dollar Man. One of the crewmen was an uncredited James Best, who later portrayed the bumbling Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane on The Dukes Of Hazzard.

12. THERE'S A LOT OF FORBIDDEN PLANET MERCHANDISE.

Like any iconic genre movie, Forbidden Planet has spawned its fair share of merch, including ship models and other model kits, lunchboxes, action figures, pins, and more. The title also inspired a chain of pop culture stores with locations in New York City and London.

13. THE FILM INFLUENCED SEVERAL ICONIC SCI-FI FRANCHISES.

Forbidden Planet seems to have had some influence on Star Trek, particularly the transporter room effect that was likely inspired by the statis chambers used for light jumps in the film. Some viewers think a Borg cube resembles the movie's Krell underground cube structure, which is 20 miles long on each side. Further, the concept of a space crew going on an interplanetary mission was central to Star Trek. "Forbidden Planet could have been the pilot film for Star Trek," star Leslie Nielsen told the Houston Chronicle in 2006. "And maybe it was."

The movie also inspired the four-part Doctor Who tale "Planet of Evil" from 1975, which was conceived by writer Louis Marks, producer Philip Hinchcliffe, and script editor Robert Holmes as a cross between Forbidden Planet and Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde. In this story, the Doctor and Sarah visit the planet Zeta Minor, where only a professor of a geological expedition from the planet Morestra has survived the attack of an unseen entity. A Morestran military team also arrives to investigate.

Finally, the tractor beam generator in Star Wars looks like part of the Krell machine network, while a hologram sequence is reminiscent of the message Princess Leia sends to Obi-Wan Kenobi via R2-D2. Star Wars sound designer Ben Burtt acknowledges even a subconscious influence of the atmospheric sounds within the Krell machinery on the hums and rumblings inside the Death Star.

14. DISNEY PLAYED A PART IN FORBIDDEN PLANET’S VISUAL EFFECTS.

The special effects sequences in the film, notably the Id Monster attacking the crew, were designed by Joshua Meador, who was on loan from Disney for the project. Two years earlier, Meador was part of the Oscar-winning visual effects team for 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea that was also subcontracted from Disney by MGM. Meador oversaw effects for many major Disney animated features including Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo, and Bambi.

15. THE FILMMAKERS WERE RECYCLERS.

Forbidden Planet was shot on same stage as The Wizard of Oz, with bits of Munchkinland used for Altaira's garden. In an interesting twist, some of Forbidden Planet's costumes (including the crewmen uniforms and Altaira's clothing) were re-used in Queen of Outer Space, a 1958 sci-fi movie starring Zsa Zsa Gabor in which a space crew that has crash landed on Venus attempts to overthrow its female dictator, who has banished men from the planet.

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NASA / Harrison H. Schmitt
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Space
The 12 Men Who Walked on the Moon
NASA / Harrison H. Schmitt
NASA / Harrison H. Schmitt

If you were born after the Apollo program, and maybe even if you remember those days, it seems almost unbelievable that NASA sent manned missions to the moon 239,000 miles away. People continue to express sadness at the fact that the Apollo lunar missions were so long ago, and that soon there will be no one left alive who actually went to the moon. Today, Alan Bean—the fourth man to walk on the moon and the last surviving member of the Apollo 12 mission—passed away at the age of 86. Which makes it the perfect time to remember—or get to know—the only 12 people who ever walked on a body other than planet Earth.

1. NEIL ALDEN ARMSTRONG

Navy test pilot, engineer, and Korean War veteran Neil Armstrong left the Navy in 1952, but continued in the Naval Reserve. He worked as an experimental test pilot for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) beginning in 1955, which evolved into NASA. Armstrong was assigned as an astronaut in 1962, and flew on the Gemini 8 mission in 1966, where he performed the first successful space docking procedure. Armstrong was selected to be the first man to walk on the moon, as the Apollo 11 mission was planned, for several reasons: he was the commander of the mission, he didn't have a big ego, and the door of the lunar lander was on his side. Although the first steps on the moon are what he will always be known for, Armstrong considered the mission's biggest accomplishment was landing the lunar module. He later said,

Pilots take no special joy in walking: pilots like flying. Pilots generally take pride in a good landing, not in getting out of the vehicle.

Armstrong along with his crew were honored with parades, awards, and acclaim after their return to Earth, but Armstrong always gave credit to the entire NASA team for the Apollo moon missions. He resigned from NASA in 1971 and became a professor of of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Cincinnati for eight years. Armstrong served on the boards of many corporations and foundations, but gradually withdrew from publicity tours and autograph signings. He didn't particularly care for fame.

Neil Armstrong died on August 25, 2012, at age 82. His family released a statement that concluded:

“For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.”

2. EDWIN "BUZZ" ALDRIN

After graduating third in his class at West Point in 1951 with a degree in science, Buzz Aldrin flew 66 combat missions as an Air Force pilot in the Korean War. Then he earned a PhD at MIT. Aldrin joined NASA as an astronaut in 1963. In 1966 he flew in the Gemini 12 spacecraft on the final Gemini mission.

Aldrin accompanied Neil Armstrong on the first moon landing in the Apollo 11 mission, becoming the second person, and now the first of the living astronauts, to set foot on the moon. Aldrin had taken a home Communion kit with him, and took Communion on the lunar surface, but did not broadcast the fact. Aldrin retired from NASA in 1971 and from the Air Force in 1972. He later suffered from clinical depression and wrote about the experience, but recovered with treatment. Aldrin has co-authored five books about his experiences and the space program, plus two novels. Aldrin, who is now 88 years old, continues to work to promote space exploration.

3. CHARLES "PETE" CONRAD

Pete Conrad was a Princeton graduate and Navy test pilot before entering the astronaut corps in 1962. He flew on the Gemini V mission and was commander of Gemini XI. Conrad was commander of the Apollo 12 mission, launched during a lightning storm which temporarily knocked out the command module's power shortly after liftoff. When Conrad stepped onto the moon, he said,

Whoopee! Man, that may have been a small one for Neil, but that's a long one for me.

Conrad later flew on the Skylab 2 mission as commander with the first crew to board the space station. He retired from NASA and the Navy in 1973, after which he worked for American Television and Communications Company and then for McDonnell Douglas.

Pete Conrad died on July 8, 1999 in a motorcycle accident. He was 69.

4. ALAN L. BEAN

Apollo astronaut Alan Bean was the fourth man to walk on the moon, during the Apollo 12 mission in 1969. He was the lunar module pilot. Bean was also the commander of the Skylab Mission II in 1973, which spent 59 days in flight. Altogether, Bean logged 1,671 hours and 45 minutes in space. Bean is the only artist to have visited another world, so his paintings of the lunar environment have the authenticity of an eyewitness. He retired from the Navy with the rank of Captain, but continued to train astronauts at NASA until 1981, when he retired to devote time to his art.

Bean died on May 26, 2018 at the age of 86.

5. ALAN SHEPARD

Alan Shepard was a bona-fide space pioneer who cemented his spot in history long before the Apollo program. A U.S. Navy test pilot, he was selected as one of the original Mercury astronauts in 1959. Shepard was the first American launched into space aboard the Freedom 7 spacecraft on May 5, 1961. His suborbital flight reached an altitude of 116 miles.

Barred from flight during the Gemini program because of an inner ear problem, Shepard had the problem fixed surgically and was assigned as commander of the Apollo 14 mission to the moon. He was responsible for the most accurate lunar module landing ever, and spent 9 hours and 17 minutes exploring the moon's surface outside the module. During that time, he famously knocked a couple of golf balls with a six-iron attached to his sample-collecting tool. With one arm (due to the space suit), he managed to drive further than professional golfers on Earth could ever hope to, thanks to the moon's lower gravity.

Before and after his Apollo mission, Shepard served as Chief of the Astronaut Office. He retired from NASA and the Navy in 1974, having achieved the rank of Rear Admiral. Shepard went into private business, serving on the board of several corporations and foundations. He founded Seven Fourteen Enterprises, an umbrella corporation named after his two space missions. Shepard wrote a book with Deke Slayton, Moon Shot: The Inside Story of America's Race to the Moon. Shepard compared his book to The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe, saying, "'We wanted to call ours 'The Real Stuff,' since his was just fiction.''

Alan Shepard died on July 21, 1998 at the age of 74.

6. EDGAR D. MITCHELL

Ed Mitchell joined the Navy in 1952 and became a test pilot. Then he earned a PhD in Aeronautics and Astronautics from MIT. NASA selected him for the astronaut corps in 1966. In January of 1971, Mitchell flew on Apollo 14 as lunar module pilot, becoming the sixth man to walk on the lunar surface. He retired in 1972 and founded the Institute of Noetic Sciences, which explores psychic and paranormal events. Mitchell gained some notoriety after NASA for his views on UFOs, as he has asserted that the government is covering up evidence at Roswell. His information, he admitted, came secondhand from various sources.

Mitchell died on February 4, 2016, the eve of the 45th anniversary of his lunar landing.

7. DAVID RANDOLPH SCOTT

David Scott joined the Air Force after graduating from West Point. Selected as an astronaut in 1963, he flew with Neil Armstrong on the Gemini 8 mission and was command module pilot on Apollo 9. Scott then went to the moon on Apollo 15, which landed on the lunar surface on July 30, 1971. It was the first mission to land near mountains. Scott and Jim Irwin spent 18 hours exploring the lunar landscape in the Lunar Roving Vehicle in the first mission to use such a vehicle to travel on the moon.

Scott became famous for the "postage stamp incident," in which he took unauthorized postage stamp covers to the moon with the intent to sell them afterwards. NASA had turned a blind eye to such activities before, but publicity over the matter caused them to discipline Scott and he never flew again. Scott retired from NASA in 1977 and served as a consultant for several movies and TV shows about the space program. He also wrote a book with former cosmonaut Alexei Leonov, Two Sides of the Moon: Our Story of the Cold War Space Race.

David Scott is 85 years old.

8. JAMES B. IRWIN

Air Force test pilot James Irwin became an astronaut in 1966. He was the lunar module pilot for Apollo 15 in 1971. His 18.5 hours of lunar surface exploration included gathering many samples of rocks. The astronauts' medical conditions were being monitored from Earth, and they noticed Irwin developing symptoms of heart trouble. As he was breathing 100% oxygen and under lower gravity than on Earth, mission control decided he was in the best environment possible for such irregularity -under the circumstances. Irwin's heart rhythm was normal by the time Apollo 15 returned to Earth, but he had a heart attack a few months later. Irwin retired from NASA and the Air Force (with the rank of Colonel) in 1972 and founded the High Flight Foundation in order to spread the Christian gospel during the last twenty years of his life. He notably took several groups on expeditions to Mt. Ararat to search for Noah's Ark.

James Irwin died on August 8, 1991, of a heart attack. He was 61 years old.

9. JOHN WATTS YOUNG

John Young is so far the longest serving astronaut in NASA history. He was selected as an astronaut in 1962 and his first space flight was in 1965 aboard Gemini 3 with Gus Grissom. He achieved some notoriety at that time by smuggling a corned beef sandwich onto the flight, angering NASA. But Young went on to complete a total of six space missions in the Gemini, Apollo, and the space shuttle programs. He orbited the moon on the Apollo 10 mission, then was commander of the Apollo 16 mission and became the ninth person to walk on the moon. Young was also commander of the first space shuttle flight in 1981 and returned for shuttle flight 9 in 1983, which deployed the first Spacelab module. Young was also scheduled for another space shuttle flight in 1986, which was delayed after the Challenger disaster, so the veteran astronaut never made his seventh flight. Young finally retired from NASA after 42 years of service in 2004.

John Young died on January 5, 2018 at the age of 87 following complications with pneumonia.

10. CHARLES M. DUKE JR.

Astronaut Charles Duke was capcom during the Apollo 11 mission. His is the voice you recall saying, "Roger, Twank... Tranquility, we copy you on the ground. You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. We're breathing again. Thanks a lot!" when the lunar module landed on the moon. Duke also made history by catching German measles while training in the backup crew for the Apollo 13 mission, exposing the crew to the disease and causing Ken Mattingly to be replaced by Jack Swigart on that terrifying spaceflight. Duke went to the moon (with Mattingly as command module pilot) on the Apollo 16 mission in April of 1972. He retired from NASA in 1975 having reached the rank of Brigadier General in the U.S. Air Force, and founded Duke Investments. Duke also became a Christian and a lay minister to prison inmates.

Charles Duke is 82 years old.

11. HARRISON "JACK" SCHMITT

Jack Schmitt was a geologist first, and trained as a pilot only after becoming a NASA astronaut. In fact, he was only the second civilian to fly into space, after Neil Armstrong, who was a veteran at the time of his flights. Schmitt was assigned to fly to the moon on the Apollo 18 mission, but when the Apollo 18 and 19 missions were cancelled in September of 1970, the scientific community lobbied to have Schmitt reassigned to Apollo 17 (replacing Joe Engle) as lunar module pilot. He was the first scientist in outer space. On the Apollo 17 mission, he and Gene Cernan spent three days on the lunar surface (a record) and drove their Lunar Roving Vehicle around collecting samples, conducting experiments, and leaving measuring instruments behind. Schmitt and Cernan gathered 250 pounds of lunar material to take back.

After resigning from NASA in 1975, Schmitt, a Republican, was elected Senator for New Mexico and served from 1977 to 1983. He became an adjunct professor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and lives in Silver City, New Mexico. In recent years, Dr. Schmitt's scientific background and political leanings have kept him in the spotlight as he has said that the concept of climate change is "a red herring," and that environmentalism is linked with communism.

Jack Schmitt is 82 years old.

12. EUGENE E. CERNAN

As a Navy pilot, Gene Cernan logged over 5,000 hours flying time. He was accepted into the astronaut program in 1963. Cernan's first space flight was on Gemini IX in 1966, in which he conducted extravehicular activities (a space walk), followed by the Apollo 10 mission in May of 1969, which orbited the moon. Cernan was assigned commander of the Apollo 17 mission before anyone knew it would be the last Apollo mission. Even after the Apollo program was cut, no one knew for sure that travel to the moon would be abandoned for decades. When Schmitt and Cernan boarded their lunar module for the last time on December 13th, 1972, Cernan said:

"I'm on the surface; and, as I take man's last step from the surface, back home for some time to come — but we believe not too long into the future — I'd like to just [say] what I believe history will record. That America's challenge of today has forged man's destiny of tomorrow. And, as we leave the Moon at Taurus-Littrow, we leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return: with peace and hope for all mankind. Godspeed the crew of Apollo 17."

Cernan retired from the Navy and from NASA in 1976. He went on to found an aerospace technology firm, and wrote a book about his experiences as an astronaut. He also contributed his talents to ABC-TV as a commentator during shuttle flights and has made appearances on various space specials. In September of 2011, Cernan testified before Congress on the future of the space program.

The space program has never been an entitlement, it's an investment in the future - an investment in technology, jobs, international respect and geo-political leadership, and perhaps most importantly in the inspiration and education of our youth. Those best and brightest minds at NASA and throughout the multitudes of private contractors, large and small, did not join the team to design windmills or redesign gas pedals, but to live their dreams of once again taking us where no man has gone before.

Gene Cernan died on January 16, 2017

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U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
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5 Things You Didn't Know About Sally Ride
U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

You know Sally Ride as the first American woman to travel into space. But here are five things you might not know about the astronaut, who was born on this day in 1951.

1. SHE PROVED THERE IS SUCH THING AS A STUPID QUESTION.

When Sally Ride made her first space flight in 1983, she was both the first American woman and the youngest American to make the journey to the final frontier. Both of those distinctions show just how qualified and devoted Ride was to her career, but they also opened her up to a slew of absurd questions from the media.

Journalist Michael Ryan recounted some of the sillier questions that had been posed to Ride in a June 1983 profile for People. Among the highlights:

Q: “Will the flight affect your reproductive organs?”
A: “There’s no evidence of that.”

Q: “Do you weep when things go wrong on the job?”
A: “How come nobody ever asks (a male fellow astronaut) those questions?"

Forget going into space; Ride’s most impressive achievement might have been maintaining her composure in the face of such offensive questions.

2. SHE MIGHT HAVE BEEN A TENNIS PRO.

When Ride was growing up near Los Angeles, she played more than a little tennis, and she was seriously good at it. She was a nationally ranked juniors player, and by the time she turned 18 in 1969, she was ranked 18th in the whole country. Tennis legend Billie Jean King personally encouraged Ride to turn pro, but she went to Swarthmore instead before eventually transferring to Stanford to finish her undergrad work, a master’s, and a PhD in physics.

King didn’t forget about the young tennis prodigy she had encouraged, though. In 1984 an interviewer playfully asked the tennis star who she’d take to the moon with her, to which King replied, “Tom Selleck, my family, and Sally Ride to get us all back.”

3. HOME ECONOMICS WAS NOT HER BEST SUBJECT.

After retiring from space flight, Ride became a vocal advocate for math and science education, particularly for girls. In 2001 she founded Sally Ride Science, a San Diego-based company that creates fun and interesting opportunities for elementary and middle school students to learn about math and science.

Though Ride was an iconic female scientist who earned her doctorate in physics, just like so many other youngsters, she did hit some academic road bumps when she was growing up. In a 2006 interview with USA Today, Ride revealed her weakest subject in school: a seventh-grade home economics class that all girls had to take. As Ride put it, "Can you imagine having to cook and eat tuna casserole at 8 a.m.?"

4. SHE HAD A STRONG TIE TO THE CHALLENGER.

Ride’s two space flights were aboard the doomed shuttle Challenger, and she was eight months deep into her training program for a third flight aboard the shuttle when it tragically exploded in 1986. Ride learned of that disaster at the worst possible time: she was on a plane when the pilot announced the news.

Ride later told AARP the Magazine that when she heard the midflight announcement, she got out her NASA badge and went to the cockpit so she could listen to radio reports about the fallen shuttle. The disaster meant that Ride wouldn’t make it back into space, but the personal toll was tough to swallow, too. Four of the lost members of Challenger’s crew had been in Ride’s astronaut training class.

5. SHE DIDN'T SELL OUT.

A 2003 profile in The New York Times called Ride one of the most famous women on Earth after her two space flights, and it was hard to argue with that statement. Ride could easily have cashed in on the slew of endorsements, movie deals, and ghostwritten book offers that came her way, but she passed on most opportunities to turn a quick buck.

Ride later made a few forays into publishing and endorsements, though. She wrote or co-wrote more than a half-dozen children’s books on scientific themes, including To Space and Back, and in 2009 she appeared in a print ad for Louis Vuitton. Even appearing in an ad wasn’t an effort to pad her bank account, though; the ad featured an Annie Leibovitz photo of Ride with fellow astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Jim Lovell gazing at the moon and stars. According to a spokesperson, all three astronauts donated a “significant portion” of their modeling fees to Al Gore’s Climate Project.

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