Sally Ride Dead At 61: Pioneering Female Astronaut Passes Away

Sally Ride, the first American woman to fly into space, passed away today at the age of 61.

According to CNN, Ride died after a 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer.

A message on her website, Sally Ride Science, reads:

“Sally Ride died peacefully on July 23rd, 2012 after a courageous 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer. 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.”

Reuters reports that Ride became the first American woman to enter space on July 18th, 1983, aboard the U.S. space shuttle “Challenger.” After 147 hours in space, the Challenger returned to earth at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

After her historic flight, Ride said:

“The thing that I’ll remember most about the flight is that it was fun. In fact, I’m sure it was the most fun I’ll ever have in my life.”

Sally Ride was a physicist, a science writer, an astronaut, and the president and CEO of Sally Ride Science, an “innovative science education company” that is dedicated to encouraging girls’ and boys’ interests in science, math and technology.

Sally Ride Science writes:

“Sally’s 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.”

Here’s a video about Sally Ride’s historic flight.