Sally Ride, first American woman in space, dies at 61
Sally Ride, the first American woman to travel in space, died on Monday after a 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer, her sources said. She was 61. A Los Angeles native, Ride was selected from 8,000 applicants to attend Stanford University, where she earned four degrees, including a doctorate in physics, according to NASA. Ride joined the space agency as part of the class of 1978, which was the first to include women. In 1983, she became America’s first woman in space after she flew into orbit aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger. A year later, Ride took a second trip aboard the same shuttle.
In a 2008 interview with CNN, Ride spoke about her experience and what it felt like to look at Earth from space. She said, “You can’t get it just standing on the ground, with your feet firmly planted on Earth. You can only get it from space, and it’s just remarkable how beautiful our planet is and how fragile it looks.”
“Sally lived her life to the fullest, with boundless energy, curiosity, intelligence, passion, commitment and love. Her integrity was absolute; her spirit was immeasurable; her approach to life was fearless,” said a statement from the Sally Ride Science website, a company she started to help teach students, specifically young women and girls, about science, math, and technology. After news of her death surfaced, President Barack Obama said, “As the first American woman to travel into space, Sally was a national hero and a powerful role model. She inspired generations of young girls to reach for the stars and later fought tirelessly to help them get there by advocating for a greater focus on science and math in our schools. Sally’s life showed us that there are no limits to what we can achieve, and I have no doubt that her legacy will endure for years to come.”
Ride is survived by her partner of 27 years, her mother, sister, and other family members.