Sally Ride, America's first woman in space, has died of
pancreatic cancer aged 61. Her family have confirmed that she was
in a relationship with a woman.
Noted physicist and NASA astronaut Dr Ride first met her partner
of 27 years, Dr Tam O'Shaugnessy, when they were 12 years old. The
pair stayed in touch over the years and went on to co-found Sally
Ride Science, an organisation dedicated to supporting children's
interest in science, maths and technology, in 2001.
Although Ride never came out beyond family and friends, the
relationship was confirmed in a statement issued by Sally Ride
Science after her death, and supported by her family.
Describing her sister as "a very private person", Bear Ride told
Buzzfeed.com that she hoped that it would "make it easier for
kids growing up gay to know that another one of their heroes was
Ride was married to fellow astronaut Steven Hawley from
1982-1987. She joined NASA in 1978 and went into space on two
missions, in 1983 and 1984. On her first mission she was, at 32,
the youngest American astronaut as well as the first American woman
in space. She received the NASA Space Flight Medal twice and was
inducted into both the National Women's Hall of Fame and the
Astronaut Hall of Fame. Two US elementary schools are named after
She is survived by her mother Joyce, sister Bear (a Presbyterian
minister), niece Caitlin and nephew Whitney, as well as her partner
Photo credit: NASA