Following the sad news today that Sally Ride, the first American women to fly in space, had died of cancer at the age of 61, President Obama released this statement:
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.
Americans were first introduced to Dr. Ride when she traveled on the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1983, and she continued to teach generations of American girls that there are no limits to what they can accomplish after leaving NASA. The former director of the California Space Institute joined President Obama in his Educate to Innovate campaign to improve the participation and performance of America’s students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Take a minute to watch these videos of Sally Ride's visits at the White House, where she participated in a Night of Astronomy with the President in 2009, and again when she took questions from Americans on the importance of STEM education: