The first female in outer space, Sally Ride, has passed away at the age of 61. Ride, who was launched into outer space on board the space shuttle Challenger a little over 29 years ago, passed away from pancreatic cancer.
Ride was part of the first class of female astronauts in 1978, a turn away from the exclusively male, military pilots of the Apollo era to mission specialists, doctors and scientists in the space shuttle era.
“The fact that I was going to be the first American woman to go into space carried huge expectations along with it,” Ride said in a 2008 space agency interview. “I didn’t really think about it that much at the time …but I came to appreciate what an honor it was to be selected to be the first to get a chance to go into space.”
Her launch riveted the nation, the seventh space shuttle trip sent to orbit and the second by the space shuttle Challenger.
She left NASA in 1987 to become a Stanford physicist and also worked on engaging children in science.