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Did NASA send astronaut Sally Ride to space with 100 tampons?

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Claim: An Instagram user @callmedangofficial claims that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) sent a female astronaut to space for six days with 100 tampons and asked if that would be sufficient.

Did NASA send astronaut Sally Ride to space with 100 tampons?

Full Text

A humorous video posted by an Instagram user @callmedangofficial on June 21, 2024, has sparked a discussion on Instagram about the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) preparation for astronauts. The comic clip highlights the space agency’s decision to provide a female astronaut with 100 tampons for a six-day mission.

The video, which has over 23,000 likes, states, “Remember when NASA sent a woman to space for only six days and they gave her 100 tampons. 100 tampons. And they asked, ‘Will that be enough?’ Because they didn’t know if that was enough,” Belsky sang at her keyboard. “These are our nation’s greatest minds. They are literally rocket scientists.”

The poster credited Marcia Belsky as the speaker in the video. Some of the comments on the post include @thesuccess_lana who pointed out the logic behind NASA’s move, “It’s better to have them and not need them, because what if something happens and she stays longer than six days?”

Meanwhile, @Iambored858 offered a witty perspective, “Maybe they didn’t know because they’re men.”

Verification

DUBAWA conducted a keyword search of NASA and 100 tampons. While the search results show multiple platforms that have shared this claim, they also surfaced a story about Sally Ride, the first US woman to be in space. 

In 1983, 32-year-old Sally Ride made history as the first American female astronaut in space, thus breaking gender barriers on the NASA STS-7 mission. She worked the robotic arm to help release satellites into space.

According to Ride’s 2002 oral history interview, NASA engineers asked if 100 tampons would be sufficient for her one-week flight. Ride recalled suggesting that half that number would be more appropriate. 

“I remember the engineers trying to decide how many tampons should fly on a one-week flight. They asked, ‘Is 100 the right number?’” Ride recalled. According to the transcript, she replied, “No, that would not be the right number.”

“They said, ‘Well, we want to be safe,’” continued Ride. “I said, ‘Well, you can cut that in half with no problem at all.’ The tampon tale is not the only example of NASA’s initial gender-related misunderstandings. Ride also recalled that engineers assumed women astronauts would want makeup in space, leading to the design of a makeup kit. 

Ride said in a January 2018 tweet shared by the NASA History Office, “The engineers at NASA, in their infinite wisdom, decided that women astronauts would want makeup — so they designed a makeup kit.”

However, a lesser-known aspect of her journey has resurfaced, highlighting the agency’s early misconceptions about women in space.

Through the keyword search, DUBAWA discovered that the conversation was revived in 2020 in a viral song by comedian Marcia Belsky, which @callmedangofficial recreated as a comic video on June 21, 2024.

DUBAWA also found that it was posted on TikTok during the 2024 International Women’s Day with over 2,300 reposts and about 200 comments.

Users like Fryegirl commented, “This will always be the best example of what women face on a daily basis when men try to make decisions for us.” Liam Brunet expressed disbelief, “they gave a woman astronaut an exorbitant amount of self-care supplies due to not knowing how space would affect her stuff” SHAME ON THEM SHAMEEEEEEE.”

Conclusion

According to Sally Ride’s interview, NASA engineers asked if 100 tampons would be sufficient for a six-day mission, but it remains unclear if they provided her with that many tampons, as the claim was also recreated from an old video.

The researcher produced this fact-check per the DUBAWA 2024 Kwame KariKari Fellowship, in partnership with Crest 91.1FM, Ibadan, and News Verifier Africa, to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.

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