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Sally Ride, The First American Woman in Space, Has Died

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Astronaut Sally Ride, the first American woman to fly in space, has died. She was 61, and had been battling pancreatic cancer for nearly two years.

Ride was a native of Los Angeles, and graduated from Westlake High School in 1968, according to her NASA biography.

A physicist, Ride went to Stanford University and earned both a bachelor of science in Physics and a bachelor of arts in English in 1973, and master of science and doctorate degrees in Physics in 1975 and 1978, respectively.

In 1978 Ride was selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA, and by August 1979 had completed her one-year training program and evaluation. Her first flight into space was in 1983, at which time she became not only the first American woman to make the trip, but, at 32, was also the youngest American at the time to do so. Ride flew on the Challenger in 1984, and was in training for her third flight when that same shuttle broke apart just minutes after take-off; Ride was named to the committee that investigated the tragic accident.Ride was with NASA until 1987, and spent the rest of her career in education, writing books, and inspiring young scientists, especially girls. From NASA:

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In 1989, Dr. Ride joined the faculty at UCSD as a Professor of Physics and Director of the University of California’s California Space Institute. In 2001 she founded her own company, Sally Ride Science [] to pursue her long-time passion of motivating girls and young women to pursue careers in science, math and technology. The company creates entertaining science programs and publications for upper elementary and middle school students and their parents and teachers.

Ride is said to have died peacefully Monday. From Sally Ride Science:

Sally lived her life to the fullest, with boundless energy, curiosity, intelligence, passion, joy, and love. Her integrity was absolute; her spirit was immeasurable; her approach to life was fearless. [...]In addition to Tam O'Shaughnessy, her partner of 27 years, Sally is survived by 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.

NASA offered thoughts on the life and legacy of Ride in a post about the scientist's life:

"Sally Ride broke barriers with grace and professionalism - and literally changed the face of America’s space program," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "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." “Sally was a personal and professional role model to me and thousands of women around the world,” said NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver. “Her spirit and determination will continue to be an inspiration for women everywhere.”

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