Sally Ride became the first American woman in space when she was part of the crew of the Space Shuttle 'Challenger' in 1983. She died yesterday in California after a battle with pancreatic cancer at the young age of 61. You can watch her 2 minute obituary from the NBC Nightly News last night HERE.
Two notable aspects go unreported in this story, however.
Despite being married at the time of her groundbreaking 1983 Space Shuttle mission, she divorced her husband in 1987. From 1985 until her death, her female partner was childhood friend Dr. Tam E. O'Shaughnessy, also making Ride arguably the first lesbian in space.
I remember Sally Ride's mission to space being widely celebrated at the time as a groundbreaking victory for women. But in fact she was not the first woman in space. Much less trumpeted during the Cold War was that the first woman in space was actually a Soviet cosmonaut named Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova, who piloted the Vostok 6 into space in 1963, twenty years before Sally Ride. Tereshkova is still alive and is now 75 years old.