Sally Ride, First American Woman in Space, Passes Away at 61

Dr. Sally Ride, the first American woman in space as well as the youngest American in space and founder of Sally Ride Science passed away today after a seventeen-month battle with pancreatic cancer. She was 61 years old. Dr. Ride is survived by her partner of 27 years, Dr. Tam O’Shaughnessy, who is the COO and Executive Vice President of Sally Ride Science, along with her mother, Joyce, and her sister, Bear.

Sally Kristen Ride earned a Ph.D. in physics from Stanford University, and joined NASA in 1978 in response to a newspaper ad she read. Ride was aboard the space shuttle Challenger in 1983 and became America’s first woman in space. She took a second trip on the same shuttle one year later. She left NASA in 1987 for a position at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Arms Control.

"As the first American woman to travel into space, Sally was a national hero and a powerful role model," President Obama said soon after news of her death broke. "She inspired generations of young girls to reach for the stars and later fought tirelessly to help them get there by advocating for a greater focus on science and math in our schools. 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."

GLAAD urges everyone to take a moment today to reflect on the memory of Dr. Sally Ride.