Sally Ride: First American Woman In Space, Dies at 61
July 24, 2012 12:35 AM EDT
Sally Ride, the first American woman to travel into spaced succumbed to pancreatic cancer Monday. She was 61.
A statement on the Sally Ride Science website said, "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."
Ride made history at 32, when she became the youngest American woman to travel into space aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger. She worked for NASA as a Special Assistant to Administrator, Charles Bolden, and later joined the University of California as a physics professor and director of the University of California's California Space Institute.
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"Sally Ride broke barriers with grace and professionalism - and literally changed the face of America's space program," said Bolden. "The nation has lost one of its finest leaders, teachers and explorers. Our thoughts and prayers are with Sally's family and the many she inspired. She will be missed, but her star will always shine brightly."
Ride believed in giving back to her community, especially to young women. She founded Sally Ride Science in 2001, which established science programs for elementary and middle school students. "My mission these days is to improve science education and particularly to encourage more girls and young women to go on in careers in science and math and technology or to at least explore the opportunities in those fields," Ride said.
She is survived by her partner Tam O'Shaughnessy, as well as her mother, sister, niece and nephew.