After a 17 month battle with pancreatic cancer, trailblazer Sally Ride, known as the first American woman in space, has died. In 1978, she was one of six women chosen by NASA from among 8,000 applicants to become an astronaut. Ride went on to inspire women and girls around the world in her roles as a physicist and science writer.
Sally Ride, First American Woman in Space, Has Died
BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor:
Sally Ride died today of pancreatic cancer. She was 61 years old. All of that time spent on earth except for the 14 days, seven hours and 46 minutes she spent in space as America’s first ever female astronaut. She was a trailblazer, an icon to schoolchildren of the generation. And tonight, NBC’s Rehema Ellis has a look back.
REHEMA ELLIS, reporting:
Sally Ride was the first American woman to wear the uniform and make the memorable journey into space.
Unidentified Man: America’s first woman astronaut.
ELLIS: She was trained as a physicist but Ride will always be remembered as an astronaut and crew member onboard the space shuttle Challenger almost thirty years ago.
SALLY RIDE: I think there are a-- a few people that are-- that are waiting to see how I do, let me-- let me put it that way.
ELLIS: Out of eight thousand who applied for the space program in the late 1970s, she was one of the chosen. Even after she left NASA she never gave up on her mission to inspire young people, especially young girls. Recently, during NBC’s Education Nation Summit Ride talked about encouraging women to study science and math.
RIDE (Education Nation): Maybe most important it’s the-- the teachers and the schools holding the high expectations and getting the message to the students, the girls as well as the boys, that we expect you to do well.
ELLIS: Ride’s historic flight captured the nation’s imagination and made her a household name.
ROBERT BAZELL (NBC News Chief Science and Health Correspondent): Sally Ride was an extraordinarily intelligent and dedicated person and you could say that about any astronaut. But she had to be even more so to get into this exclusively men’s club, mostly fighter pilots, a very macho culture.
ELLIS: Sally Ride died today at age 61 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. An American hero, she became a symbol for everyone and mostly women who strive to break through barriers like she did. Rehema Ellis, NBC News, New York.
American astronaut Peggy Whitson made history when she floated outside the International Space Station on Thursday. She broke the record for the most spacewalks by a woman.
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