LOS ANGELES—Space used to be a man's world. Then came Sally Ride, who blazed a cosmic trail for U.S. women into orbit. With a pitch perfect name out of a pop song refrain, she joined the select club of American space heroes the public knew by heart: Shepard, Glenn, Armstrong and Aldrin.
Ride, the first American woman in orbit, died Monday at her home in the San Diego community of La Jolla at age 61. The cause was pancreatic cancer, an illness she had for 17 months, according to her company, Sally Ride Science.
Ride rode into space on the space shuttle Challenger on June 18, 1983, when she was 32. Since then, 42 other American women flew in space.