First American Woman to Fly in Space, Sally Ride, Survived by Partner of 27 Years

First American Woman to Fly in Space, Sally Ride, Survived by Partner of 27 Years

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Sally Ride/Photo: Sally Ride Science

Sally Ride died peacefully on 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, joy, 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.

In 1977, Sally already had degrees in physics and English from Stanford University and was about to finish her Ph.D. in physics when she saw an ad in the Stanford student newspaper saying that NASA was looking for astronauts. Up until then, astronauts had been military test pilots—and they all had been male. But now NASA was looking for scientists and engineers, and was allowing women to apply. Sally immediately sent in her application—along with 8,000 other people. From that group, 35 new astronauts, including six women, were chosen to join the astronaut corps. NASA selected Sally as an astronaut candidate in January 1978.

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.

Source: Sally Ride Science

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