After a 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer, Astronaut Sally Ride died on 23 July, 2012.
Ride joined NASA in 1978, and in 1983 (STS-7, Challenger) became the first American woman in space.She was 32 at the time which also made her the youngest astronaut.
Her second space flight was in 1984 STS-41G), also on board the Challenger.She was in training for her third flight when the Challenger disaster occurred. Ride served on the accident investigation board and headed the operations subcommittee.
Following the investigation, Ride was assigned to NASA headquarters in Washington, DC, where she led NASA’s first strategic planning effort, authored a report entitled “Leadership and America’s Future in Space”, and founded NASA’s Office of Exploration.
In 1987, Ride left her position in Washington, DC, to work at the Stanford University Center for International Security and Arms Control. In 1989, she became a professor of physics at the University of California, San Diego and Director of the California Space Institute. In 2003, she was asked to serve on the Space Shuttle Columbia Accident Investigation Board. She was the president and CEO of Sally Ride Science, a company she founded in 2001 that creates entertaining science programs and publications for upper elementary and middle school students, with a particular focus on girls.
According to Roger Boisjoly, the engineer who warned of the technical problems that led to the Space Shuttle Challenger accident, Ms. Ride was the only public figure to show support for him when he went public with his pre-disaster warnings (after the entire workforce of Morton-Thiokol shunned him). Sally Ride hugged him publicly to show her support for his efforts.
She is survived by her mother, Joyce; her sister, Bear; her niece, Caitli; nephew, Whitney and Tam O’Shaughnessy, her partner of 27 years.