Sally Ride, the first American woman to journey into space, died on Monday after a 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer, her foundation announced. She was 61.

Ride first launched into space in 1983 aboard the Challenger shuttle, taking part in the seventh mission of US space shuttle program.

US President Barack Obama called her a “national hero and a powerful role model” who “inspired generations of young girls to reach for the stars.”

“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,” he added, in a statement offering condolences to Ride’s family and friends.

NASA administrator Charles Bolden said in a statement Ride “literally changed the face of America’s space program” and that “the nation has lost one of its finest leaders, teachers, and explorers.”

http://news.yahoo.com/sally-ride-first-us-woman-space-dead-61-212809122.html