On Monday, the first US woman to travel to space, Dr. Sally Ride, passed away. She was 61 years old and had been suffering with pancreatic cancer for over 17 months.
“Sally lived her life to the fullest, with boundless energy, curiosity, intelligence, passion, commitment, and love,” says a statement on the Sally Ride Science website, which announced her death.
“Her integrity was absolute; her spirit was immeasurable; her approach to life was fearless.”
At the age of 32 in 1983, she was the youngest American as well as the first American woman to travel to space in the Space Shuttle Challenger.
1984 again, she went aboard the same space shuttle.
Ride was the physics professor as well as the director at the University of California’s California Space Institute.
“Sally Ride broke barriers with grace and professionalism – and literally changed the face of America’s space program,” says NASA Administrator Charles 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.”
“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 told members of the Allegheny County Women’s Leadership Council in 2007.
“The philosophy we have is that we don’t have to convert kids, even girls, to science. Let’s just give them opportunities to explore those interests and show them that there are lots of other girls, normal kids, who share those interests and that there are lots of women who go on to careers that they love in science and engineering.”
Ride is survived by her mother, her sister and her husband Tam O’Shaughnessy along with other family members.