Sally Ride, the first American woman to go into space, has died. Ride, 61, passed away peacefully at her home in La Jolla, CA. on Monday, July 23 after a 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer.

Ride became a household name thanks to her historic trip into space. She soared into the sky as a mission specialist on STS-7, which launched on June 18, 1983. She was 32 at the time.

She was a symbol of women’s ability to break through the glass ceiling and became an inspiration to a generation of young girls. Ride didn’t take that role lightly. Even after she retired from NASA, she continued to inspire young people, namely girls, to follow their interest in science and to pursue careers in related fields, like engineering.

President Obama issued a statement about Ride’s death, saying:

Michelle and I were deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Sally Ride. 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. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Sally’s family and friends.

Ride was not the first woman to go into space. Valentina Tereshkova, of  the Soviet Union, earned that honor when she was on a rocket in June of 1963.

Ride is survived by Tam O’Shaughnessy, her partner of 27 years, as well as her mother Joyce; her sister Bear, and a niece and nephew.



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