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Space community mourns Sally Ride (+video)

Following the death of astronaut Sally Ride everyone from Buzz Aldrin to Barack Obama has offered a tribute to the first American woman in space.

By SPACE.com Staff / July 24, 2012

Astronaut Sally Ride, mission specialist on STS-7, monitors control panels from the pilot's chair on the Flight Deck of the Space Shuttle Challenger in this June 1983 photo. Floating in front of her is a flight procedures notebook. Ride died on Monday after a 17-month illness.

NASA/Reuters

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Sally Ride, the first American woman to fly in space, died Monday (July 23) at the age of 61.

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Sally Ride, who in 1983 became the first American woman in space, died Monday.

Ride made history when she launched aboard the space shuttle Challenger on the STS-7 mission in 1983. She became only the third woman to ever travel in space, after Soviet cosmonauts Valentina Tereshkova in 1963 and Svetlana Savitskaya in 1982.

Ride traveled into space once more in 1984, as a member of the STS-41G crew on the space shuttle Challenger. Over the course of her career, Ride logged a total of 343 hours in space.

Sally Ride's death came after 17 months of battling pancreatic cancer. Here are some tributes to Sally Ride from astronauts, scientists, historians, industry officials and other luminaries:

Barack Obama, President of the United States

Michelle and I were deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Sally Ride. As the first American woman to travel into space, Sally was a national hero and a powerful role model. 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. Sally’s life showed us that there are no limits to what we can achieve and I have no doubt that her legacy will endure for years to come. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Sally’s family and friends.

Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator

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. [Sally Ride: 1st American Woman in Space (Pictures)]

Lori Garver, NASA Deputy Administrator

Sally was a personal and professional role model to me and thousands of women around the world. Her spirit and determination will continue to be an inspiration for women everywhere.

Eileen M. Collins, former astronaut and space shuttle commander

I am surprised and saddened by the news of Sally Ride’s passing. She was such a wonderful role model and source of inspiration to me. 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. 

She mentored me several times during my astronaut career, leaving me with many cherished memories. She never sought media attention for herself, but rather focused on doing her normally outstanding job. 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. She also played a notable role in both the Challenger and Columbia accident investigations. Sally left us too soon. Godspeed Sally, you will be greatly missed.

Sally Ride Science, Company Statement

Sally 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 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. 

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