Sally Ride, First American Woman in Space, Passes Away

Dr. Sally Ride, the first American woman to fly in space, died today, July 23, 2012. She was 61 years old.

Dr. Ride flew in space twice, first in 1983 aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger, then again aboard Challenger in 1984. She was the President and CEO of Sally Ride Science, a science education company that creates programs and products for students and teachers in elementary and middle school with a focus on encouraging girls. Dr. Ride was also a Professor of Physics (Emerita) at the University of California, San Diego. She received her B.S in Physics, B.A in English, and M.S. and PhD in Physics from Stanford University.

Sally died peacefully July 23 after a courageous 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer. She 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 Ride broke barriers with grace and professionalism – and literally changed the face of America’s space program. 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.”

– Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator

For more information visit

“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.” 

– Dr. Sally Ride, former NASA astronaut

(NASA/JPL video from July 2008)

Photo and video: NASA

17 Replies to “Sally Ride, First American Woman in Space, Passes Away”

  1. I’m just shocked to visit the page of my dear space news site, Universe Today, and the first thing to read is of the passing of Sally Ride!

    My true condolences to her family and loved ones! Now her spirit has gone to new heights, to explore new realms. May her approach and spirit towards life, be a ray of light and inspiration for everyone..

  2. Dang…. Really? At 58 I can relate.. but 61 seems kinnah young from here… sheesh.. RIP Sally … and thanks for all of your contributions …. dang…

  3. The third of all womankind to travel to space, she’ll be remembered far far into the future

  4. By coincidence, the Google search icon reveals today as Amelia Earhart’s birthday, too.
    Fitting that these two female pioneers have a connection in more than one respect.

  5. My true condolences to her family and whole space community…
    I wish, I had heard about new cure developed for pancreatic cancer !

  6. My condolences to Tam O’Shaughnessy (Sally’s partner of 27 years), the rest of her family, her friends and her ‘NASA family’.

    An inspiring woman, a life well-lived.

    1. That’s Ride, Captain Ride, upon your mystery ship, by Blood Sweat and Tears.
      I think you mean the chorus lyrics from Mustang Sally, most familiar to me by Wilson Pickett.

  7. I’m sorry to hear this news.
    Reading this story, it strikes me how crazy it was that NASA waited so long to put a woman in space – 1983! I mean the Soviets had a woman in space in 1963, 20 years before! To think that the Soviets were so much further ahead in equality is mind-boggling.

    1. The Soviets only put a woman up in space for political propaganda purposes; the female cosmonaut detachment was disbanded in 1969. Also, it was only when the impending flight, in the early 1980s, by an American woman on the space shuttle that the Soviet Union again recruited a new group of female cosmonauts – Svetlana Savitskaya became the second Russian woman in space in 1982 and 1984.

      1. “…only put a woman up in space for political propaganda purposes.”
        Oh come on, you could say the same about anyone from Alan Shepherd to Neil Armstrong – not to mention Yuri Gagarin. Valentina Tereshkova had to parachute jump out her capsule like any other good cosmonaut of her day. Splashdowns are for wimps.
        Sorry to hear about Dr Ride anyhow.

  8. Very sad and my deepest condolences to her family and the USA.

    It tells me that no matter what you do, how hard you try to maintain your health and fitness, as she must have, the big C or something will still get you in the end. Enjoy your life and do everything possible within it while you still have time.

Comments are closed.