Sally Ride, the first American woman to fly in space, died Monday after a battle with pancreatic cancer, her family confirmed. She was 61. “Sally lived her life to the fullest, with boundless energy, curiosity, intelligence, passion, joy and love,” her family said in a statement on Ride’s website. Ride already had a degree in astrophysics in 1977 when she joined NASA, whose astronauts had all been male military test pilots. Ride made history on June 18, 1983, when she launched into space abroad the Challenger. “The thing I remember most about that flight was that it was fun,” Ride said. “In fact, I think I’m sure it was the most fun I’ll ever have in my life.” It was publicly acknowledged for the first time that Ride was gay in her obituary which read that the late astronaut is survived by her partner of 27 years, Tam O’Shaugnessy, as well as her other family and her staff of 40 at the Sally Ride Center.
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