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Picture Tribute: First Female NASA Astronaut Sally Ride

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"God Speed Sally..."

Ride aboard Challenger in 1983. (Photo: Wikimedia)

The first American, female astronaut, Sally Ride, died on Monday of pancreatic cancer at 61 years old.

Although the astronaut's ex-husband, Steve Hawley, said that her "very public persona" was a "role in which she was never fully comfortable," Ride has left a legacy of inspiring women to enter the scientific and space fields.

"While she never enjoyed being a celebrity, she recognized that it gave her the opportunity to encourage children, particularly young girls, to reach their full potential," Hawley said in a statement.

Ride was encouraging and highly supportive when astronaut Eileen Collins became the first female shuttle pilot and, consequently, commander back in the 1990s.

Collins was among the young women inspired by Ride's courageous journey and, like so many others, were stunned to learn of her death.

"Sally left us too soon," Collins said in a statement put out by NASA. "God Speed Sally, you will be greatly missed."

Below are pictures of Ride through the years.

Ride flew twice into space on the Challenger space shuttle. On those missions, she spent a total of just over 14 days in space.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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