Sally Ride, the first American female astronaut in space, died Monday in La Jolla, Calif., after a 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer, reports NPR.org. She was 61. The Standford University-educated physicist launched into space aboard the Challenger in 1983 after applying to an ad, which sought applicable candidates for NASA missions. In 1987 Ride left NASA and returned to Standford, where she inspired young women to study science and engineering. According to the Chicago Sun Times, Ride was also a science book author for children. She is survived by her mother, sister, and longtime partner, Tam O’Shaughnessy.