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Sally Ride, America's First Female in Space, Dies: Sally Ride, the first American female in space, died July 23 at her home in La Jolla, Calif., following a 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer, reported the Los Angeles Times. She was 61. The Los Angeles native broke the gender barrier in June 1983 when she rocketed into space aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger as part of the six-day STS-7 mission. She returned to space in 1984 on another Challenger mission, STS-41G. "Sally Ride broke barriers with grace and professionalism—and literally changed the face of America's space program," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden in a July 23 release. He added, "The nation has lost one of its finest leaders, teachers, and explorers." Ride, who held a doctorate degree in physics, was part of NASA's 1978 astronaut class—the first to include women, according to the release. She retired from NASA in 1987 to join the faculty at the University of California at San Diego. (See also Ride's Air Force biography.)