Sally Ride broke several barriers when she blasted off from Cape Canaveral in Florida aboard the shuttle Challenger on June 18, 1983. At age 32, Ride became the first American woman to journey into space. The historic flight changed the face of America’s space program forever.The trailblazing astronaut died Monday, after a 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer, according her foundation website, Sally Ride Science. She was 61.
“Sally was a national hero and a powerful role model,” President Obama said in a statement. “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. “
Sally was born on May 26, 1951, in southern California. While growing up, Ride played competitive tennis and was good enough to win an athletic scholarship to Westlake High School (pictured here). Ride went on to receive degrees in physics and English from Stanford University.
In 1977, Ride was on her way to receiving a Ph.D. in physics when she responded to an ad in her student newspaper seeking astronauts. She was one of 35 people, and just six women, chosen from 8,000 applicants.
Ride's astronaut training included parachute jumping, water survival and learning how to fly an aeroplane, including the T-38 jet shown here.
NASA's first female class takes a break from training in 1978 (From left: Sally Ride, Judith Resnik, Anna Fisher, Kathryn Sullivan, Rhea Seddon).
Ride also served as the communications officer for the second and third flights of the space shuttle Colombia.
Ride became the first woman in space on June 18, 1983, when she blasted off from Cape Canaveral with a five-member crew aboard the space shuttle Challenger. (Front row, left to right: Ride, Commander Bob Crippen, Pilot Frederick Hauck. Back row, left to right: John Fabian, Norm Thagard).
As mission specialist on STS-7, Ride monitors control panels from the pilot's chair on the Flight Deck. Floating in front of her is a flight procedures notebook.
After the Challenger explosion, killing all seven crew members, Ride served on the Presidential Commission to investigate the accident. She became the first director of NASA's Office of Exploration and retired from the agency in 1987.
Ride taught physics at the University of California San Diego before founding her own company, Sally Ride Science, in 2001. The foundation aims to keep kids' interest in science alive. Ride also co-wrote seven science books for children.
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