On Monday, Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, passed away after a 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer. Her death, which came as a surprise to many, led to an outpouring of reaction, including from the White House and members of Congress.
“Michelle and I were deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Sally Ride,” President Obama said in a brief statement issued late Monday. “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.”
“Dr. Sally Ride was a true American pioneer who sparked the imagination of a generation of women and girls,” said Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) in a statement. “I’ll never forget the day when as a Member of Congress I traveled to the Kennedy Space Center to watch the first American woman blast into space. On that day, Dr. Ride launched into the history books and broke down the barriers that said women weren’t good enough, smart enough or strong enough.”
“I have always greatly admired her spirit and perseverance in accomplishing her goals and I know her legacy will live on in the millions of girls and women she inspired,” said Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX). She adds that she interviewed Ride for her 2004 book American Heroines. In that interview, “Sally Ride noted that one of her favorite childhood memories was of advice given to her by her father after a particularly discouraging day at school. His advice was to ‘reach for the stars.’ And so she did.”
“She was inspiration to all of us, especially young women,” said Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), ranking member of the House Science Committee. “Beyond her work at NASA, she provided distinguished service on a number of important national advisory commissions. At the same time, I believe one of her most lasting influences was through the work she did to interest our young girls in science and technology.”