On Monday, July 23, 2012, the American astronaut Sally Ride lost her 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer. Ride died at the age of 61.
Not just any astronaut, Ride was the first American woman to travel into orbit aboard the 1983 shuttle, the Challenger. At the time, she was also the youngest American to travel to space at the age of 32 years old.
Across the country this week, people celebrated the life and mourned the loss of Sally Ride. President Obama called her a “national hero and a powerful role model.” Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) remarked that even though Sally was the first woman in space, “she didn’t want to be the only.” And she wasn’t. Since Ride shattered the glass ceiling for women to travel into space, many others have followed.
Ride’s founding of Sally Ride Science demonstrates her commitment to awakening girls’ and boys’ curiosities in science, technology, engineering, and math. Sen. Mikulski commented on this initiative stating, “She did not seek profit, she sought to inspire others.” What an extraordinary woman. Sally Ride’s contributions to STEM education, especially for young girls, are countless and her legacy will live on.
The National Council of Women’s Organizations is appreciative of the progress that Sally Ride made for young girls and women in the sciences, and we send our condolences and thoughts to her family and friends.