The first American woman to travel to space died Monday, July 23, 2012, after a long battle with pancreatic cancer, People magazine reports. Dr. Sally Ride was 61.
A statement on Ride’s website said: "Sally lived her life to the fullest, with boundless energy, curiosity, intelligence, passion, commitment, and love."
Ride was 32 when she became the first American woman to go into space, boarding the Space Shuttle Challenger on June 18, 1983. She became not only the first woman, but also the youngest American to enter space.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden issued a statement saying, "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."
After her time at NASA as special assistant to the administrator for long-range and strategic planning, she joined the University of California, San Diego, as a physics professor and director of the California Space Institute.
In 2001, Ride founded Sally Ride Science, an initiative that develops science programs and publications from upper elementary and middle school students. She is survived by Tam O’Shaughnessy, her partner for 27 years, her mother, sister and other family members.