Sally Ride Death: First Female Astronaut in Space Dies of Pancreatic Cancer at 61



Astronaut Sally Ride Dies of Pancreatic Cancer

Sally Ride, the first American woman to fly into space, died Monday after a 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer.

By Allison Takeda

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MONDAY, July 23, 2012 —Astronaut and physicist Sally Ride, who rocketed to fame in 1983 as the first American woman to fly in space, died Monday at the age of 61 after a 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer, her company said in a statement on its Web site.

Ride was born and raised in Southern California, where she attended the prestigious Harvard-Westlake School and became a nationally-ranked tennis player. She graduated from Stanford University with a bachelor’s degree and, later, a Master’s and Ph.D. in physics.

In the late 1970s, responding to a newspaper ad seeking applicants for the space program, Ride joined NASA’s first-ever co-ed astronaut class. She completed five years of training at the agency before she and three others were chosen for the STS-7 mission, a six-day flight to deploy communications satellites and conduct experiments.

“The fact that I was going to be the first American woman to go into space carried huge expectations along with it,” Ride recalled in in 2008. “That was made pretty clear the day that I was told I was selected as a crew. I was taken up to Chris Kraft’s office. He wanted to have a chat with me and make sure I knew what I was getting into before I went on the crew. I was so dazzled to be on the crew and go into space I remembered very little of what he said.”

Ride completed another flight in 1984 and then accepted a job as a special assistant to the NASA administrator for long range and strategic planning before leaving to teach physics at the University of California-San Diego. She remained an active voice in the space community, however, and consulted on NASA human spaceflight programs as recently as 2009. In May of this year, she wrote an op-ed for Mashable about the importance of science education for the next generation of physicists and rocket scientists — this, despite being saddled with the burden of pancreatic cancer, which, even in its earliest stage, has a five-year survival rate of just 14 percent.

A Remarkable Life Cut Short by a Deadly Disease

Pancreatic cancer affects more than 43,000 people every year and kills more than 37,000, according to the American Cancer Society. Among other public figures affected by the disease are Patrick Swayze and Steve Jobs, both of whom passed away within the last three years. Risk is higher among women, the elderly, smokers, African-Americans, and people with diabetes, although the links to these factors are not clearly understood.

What is known about the disease is that it’s very often deadly. There’s no routine screening test — though recent research has shown promise with being able to detect tumors by shining a light into the small intestine — so some 92 percent of pancreatic cancers are found only after they’ve spread to other organs. This is compounded by the fact that there are limited options for treatment — and as a result, some 75 percent of patients die less than a year after diagnosis, and 94 percent die within five years, according to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PANCAN).

Ride is survived by Tam O’Shaughnessy, her partner of 27 years, as well as her mother, sister, niece, and nephew. She also leaves behind a lasting legacy as a true pioneer, both in space and here on Earth.

”Sally Ride broke barriers with grace and professionalism — and literally changed the face of America’s space program,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said on the agency’s Web site. “The nation has lost one of its finest leaders, teachers, and explorers. Our thoughts and prayers are with Sally’s family and the many she inspired. She will be missed, but her star will always shine brightly.”

Do you know anyone who has been affected by pancreatic cancer? Share your story in the comments section below.






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Date: 05.12.2018, 01:26 / Views: 84261