Sally Ride, first American woman in space, dies of pancreatic cancer

Former Astronaut Sally Ride speaks to members of the media as NASA personnel set-up astronomy equipment on the South Lawn of the White House in preparation for tonight's event with the President and the First Lady, in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2009. President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama will be joined by local area middle school students as the use telescopes to star gaze. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

July 23, 2012 2:29:19 PM PDT
Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, has died at the age of 61 after battling pancreatic cancer.

According to Sally Ride Science, her historic flight into space captured the nation's imagination and made her a household name. She became a symbol of the ability of women to break barriers and a hero to generations of adventurous young girls. After retiring from NASA, Sally used her high profile to champion a cause she believed in passionately--inspiring young people, especially girls, to stick with their interest in science, to become scientifically literate, and to consider pursuing careers in science and engineering.

Ride is survived by her partner of 27 years, Tam O'Shaughnessy; her mother, Joyce; her sister, Bear; her niece, Caitlin, and nephew, Whitney; her staff of 40 at Sally Ride Science; and many friends and colleagues around the country.