Sally Ride, First American Woman in Space, Dies at 61


Sally Ride, the first American woman in space aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1983, has died at 61 after a 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer, according to Sally Ride Science:

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.

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.

Ride's second trip to space was also aboard the Challenger. She was in training for her third when the Challenger disaster occurred in 1986.


(image source)


  1. Alex Parrish says

    The New Civil Rights Movement webpage is identifying her as a Lesbian: “She is survived by her partner of 27 years, Dr. Tam O’Shaughnessy, who is also the COO and Executive Vice President of Sally Ride Science and a Professor Emerita of School Psychology at San Diego State University, along with her mother, Joyce and sister, Bear.”

    May she rest in peace.

  2. patrick says

    I don’t know if Tam is man or woman, or if it matters. Ms. Ride impressed me when she sat on the Challenger investigation committee and insisted on finding the real facts of what happened. RIP Sally Ride.

  3. my2cents says

    Dr. Tam O’Shaughnessy is the COO and Executive Vice President of Sally Ride Science and a Professor Emerita of School Psychology at San Diego State University. Dr. O’Shaughnessy has been interested in science since she was a little girl.

    One of her favorite childhood memories is of watching tadpoles in a creek gradually sprout legs, go green, and turn into frogs.

    She studied biology in college, earning B.S. and M.S. degrees from Georgia State University. While teaching college biology, she became interested in how kids learn and went on to earn her Ph.D. in school psychology from the University of California, Riverside.

    A former science teacher and award-winning children’s science writer, Dr. O’Shaughnessy has extensive experience cultivating girls’ and boys’ interests in reading, math, and science. She helped found Sally Ride Science because of her long-standing commitment to science education and her recognition of the importance of supporting girls’ interests in science. She finds her work with Sally Ride Science irresistible.

    As the Executive Vice President for Content, Dr. O’Shaughnessy is responsible for all publications and professional development at Sally Ride Science.

    She oversees the development of Sally Ride Science’s classroom books, teacher guides, and educator institutes. In addition, Dr. O’Shaughnessy is the author of 9 science books for children, including “Our Changing Climate: Ecosystems” and “The Third Planet” (co-authored with Sally Ride), which won the American Institute of Physics Children’s Science Writing Award.

  4. DANNY says

    From Wikipedia:

    “The fact that Ride was in a lesbian relationship with O’Shaugnessy was confirmed by both Ride’s sister and by a spokesperson for Sally Ride Science. They stated that Ride preferred to keep this information private during her life.”

    If you knew this before, where did you publish the story?

  5. my2cents says

    my2cents here – icebloo neither here or here.

    a simple google can help guide your awareness.
    before morning light. little kiwi will be posting the ‘out and proud’ posting to his blog supported by his “mum” and dad…

    besides, not being a purveyor of this site, how does one ‘take it down a notch’?
    fax is fax on the interweb

    again, Towleroad has jumped the shark.

  6. DANNY says

    It was just revealed in the last couple of hours you fool. When Towleroad posted the story it had not come out (no pun intended). Her family is just confirming it. If you want instant breaking news try CNN or Fox News or MSNBC. Get a life.

  7. my2cents says

    one doesn’t need be the ‘purveyor’ of this site to know of bita kiwi, or rick.

    the daily read here between them is theatric, to say the least.

    what better way to generate page hits and ‘coin’ than having these two bounce off each other?

  8. Josh says

    Sally Ride was a brave woman. I understand from the article that her lover was a woman named Tam, and that she and Sally were together for 27 years They weren’t married obviously. These are the types of relationships and real bonds that exist outside of today’s marriage farce. Gays have had, and can have, lasting lives together. Rest in peace Sally Ride.

  9. my2cents says

    @ J.J. IN THE NAVY
    regardless of Ride’s spacial journey,
    her inner ex-ploration is in-spirational.
    surely her partner is proud,
    as are all witness to the space program
    and the journey of Self.

  10. Mark says

    Of course the bigger implication of her relationship is that her partner of 27 YEARS will not receive any benefits (like federal pensions) that the straight spouses of other astronauts are entitled to.

Leave A Reply