Dr. Sally Ride, a former NASA flight engineer who was the first American woman to ever travel to space, has died. Ride passed away Monday after more than a year of battling pancreatic cancer, according to a statement on her official website Sallyridescience.com. She was 61.
"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,” says the statement.
NASA selected Ride for astronaut training in 1978. Five years later on June 18, 1983, Ride traveled to space on board the Space Shuttle Challenger, becoming the first American woman in space. The following year she went on her second mission to space, also on the Challenger. Ride was set to travel to space on the Challenger a third time, but ended up being appointed to the presidential commission that investigated the cause of the space shuttle exploding less than 2 minutes after takeoff in 1986. Ride left NASA in 1987 and became a physics professor and director of the California Space Institute for the University of California. She also wrote five science books for children.
"Sally Ride broke barriers with grace and professionalism – and literally changed the face of America's space program. 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,” says Charles Bolden, a NASA administrator.
President Barack Obama also released a statement on Ride’s death. “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,” he said.
In addition to her partner of nearly 30 years, Tam O'Shaughnessy, Ride is survived by her mother and sister.
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