Sally Ride, first U.S. woman in space, dies at 61
By Michael Winter, USA TODAY
Updated 13h 48m ago
CAPTIONNASA file photo via AFP/Getty Images
Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, has died of pancreatic cancer at age 61.
Update at 6:27 p.m. ET: NASA has released a statement of condolences on the death of Ride, calling her "a pioneer of a different sort."
Update at 5:49 p.m. ET: In a 2008 Q&A with Florida Today, Ride reflected on her historic ride aboard STS-7:
"It was pretty crazy. But the really good thing is that I was insulated from a lot of it. So I was aware of all the hoopla in the media. But I was much less aware than you might expect just because you know how those days and weeks before launch are. There is so much new information to cram in. People are coming at you every day with this little piece of information they forgot to tell you. And this procedure has changed just a little bit. ... The fact that I was in training and within NASA's kind of bubble made it easier for me to focus on the flight and it made it relatively easy for me to ignore what was going on at least pre-launch.
"You know all that disappeared post-launch, but pre-launch I was really able to focus a lot on the mission itself."
She also said she had developed "a more refined view of the danger of the shuttle" after the Challenger's destruction during its Jan. 28, 1986, launch because of the failure of the right solid-fuel rocket booster:
"I didn't, for example, think a lot about the solid rockets. I think that I considered the main engines the riskiest part of the shuttle, and I think that most people would share that view actually. But I think we've learned a lot about the solid rockets and I think we've learned a lot about what foam can do."
Update at 5:42 p.m. ET: In a 2006 interview with USA TODAY, Ride spoke about why girls don't pursue degrees in math and science, and what businesses should do to change that:
"I'd introduce her to the coolest female engineer in the company. Girls tend to have a stereotype of engineers being 65-year-old guys who wear lab coats and pocket protectors and look like Einstein. Try to make it personal to them and show them some of the cool things that they can do in engineering."
Update at 5:37 p.m. ET: Here's the full statement from Sally Ride Science, the San Diego company she developed to provide classroom materials, programs and professional help for K-12 teachers:
Sally Ride died peacefully July 23, 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.
Sally was a physicist, the first American woman to fly in space, a science writer, and the President and CEO of Sally Ride Science. She had the rare ability to understand the essence of things and to inspire those around her to join her pursuits.
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.
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.
Update at 5:35 p.m. ET: "The nation has lost one of its finest leaders, teachers and explorers," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.
Update at 5:29 p.m. ET: After leaving NASA, Ride worked at the Stanford University Center for International Security and Arms Control, became a professor of physics at the University of California-San Diego and was director of the California Space Institute.
CAPTIONNASA file photo
Original post: Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, has died of cancer at age 61, her organization has announced.
On June 18, 1983, Ride was 32 when she launched aboard the space shuttle Challenger.
Ride, a physicist, helped develop the shuttle's robotic arm.
She was one of 8,000 people who responded to a newspaper advertisement seeking NASA applicants. She joined the space agency in 1978 and left in 1987.http://content.usatoday.com/communities/ondeadline/post/2012/07/sally-ride-first-us-woman-in-space-dies-at-61/1#.UA7CtRy1Ohs