Astronaut Sally Ride, first American woman to fly in space, dies

(CNN) -- Sally Ride, the first American woman to fly in space, died Monday after a 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer, her company said on its website. She was 61.

"Sally lived her life to the fullest, with boundless energy, curiosity, intelligence, passion, commitment, and love. Her integrity was absolute; her spirit was immeasurable; her approach to life was fearless," read a statement on the Sally Ride Science website .

Ride rode to orbit aboard the space shuttle Challenger almost 30 years ago to become America's first woman in space.

She is survived by her partner of 27 years, Tam O'Shaughnessy, her mother, her sister, and other family members.

"Sally Ride broke barriers with grace and professionalism -- and literally changed the face of America's space program," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "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."

NASA posted on its website: Ride's contribution to America's space program continued right up until her death at age 61 this week. After two trips to orbit aboard the shuttle, she went on an award-winning academic career at the University of California, San Diego, where her expertise and wisdom were widely sought on matters related to space.

The wptv.com web team contributed to this report.

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