VIDEO: First American woman in space, Sally Ride dies
Sally Ride changed the world for American women, becoming the first woman to go into space. She endured probing and embarrassing questions about what it would be like to be a woman in space. She died Monday at her home in San Diego.
Sally Ride, the first American woman to travel in space, will be remembered as someone who broke the glass ceiling for women everywhere.
She died Monday at her home in San Diego at the age of 61 after battling pancreatic cancer. Ride joined the astronaut program after seeing an ad in a newspaper in 1978. She flew on the seventh shuttle mission, abord Challenger, in 1983 and on a second mission in 1984.
She was later part of the investigations into the Challenger disaster and the Columbia disaster, explosions that killed all the astronauts on board.
Ride graduated from Stanford University with degrees in physics and astrophysics and said she realized when she saw the job ad that she fit the qualifications.
“The women’s movement had already paved the way, I think, for my coming,” she said to the New York Times at the time.
Ride followed two Soviet women into space, who both flew in the 1960s, Valentina Tereshkova and Svetlana Savitskaya.
Tributes to ride have poured in. President Barack Obama lauded Ride as a role model and national hero.
"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," he said in a statement posted on SPACE.com.
Eileen Collins, a former astronaut and the first woman to pilot and command a space shuttle mission, followed in Ride's shoes. She called Ride a mentor, and said she was a source of inspiration.
"People around the world still recognize her name as the first American woman in space, and she took that title seriously even after departing NASA," Collins said to SPACE.com. "Her “Sally Ride Science” programs have reached thousands of middle school girls, giving them the confidence to stay focused on math and science, even when the mass media message was otherwise."
"The Takeaway" is a national morning news program, delivering the news and analysis you need to catch up, start your day, and prepare for what's ahead. The show is a co-production of WNYC and PRI, in editorial collaboration with the BBC, The New York Times Radio, and WGBH Radio Boston.