Former U.S. astronaut Sally Ride, the first American woman to fly in space, died Monday after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. She was 61 years old.
Ride, who earned four degrees, including a doctorate in physics, from Stanford University was part of the first NASA class for astronauts to accept women in 1978.
She joined four male astronauts on the crew of the Space Shuttle Challenger in June 1983 and became a hero to young girls across the United States as the first American woman in space.
Ride flew on Challenger again in 1984. She was a member of the panels that investigated the Challenger accident in 1986 and the destruction of the Space Shuttle Columbia in 2003.
She also founded a company whose mission was to motivate girls and young women to pursue careers in science, math and technology.
President Barack Obama issued a statement calling Ride "a national hero and powerful role model" who advocated a greater focus on math and science in U.S. schools.