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Sally Ride, first American woman in space, a lesbian, dies of cancer

Dr. Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, died today.  And it turns out she was even more of a pioneer than most of us realized.  She will also be remembered as the first lesbian astronaut.

Ride, 61, died today after a 17-month battle against pancreatic cancer, her company (Sally Ride Science, the educational venture she founded after leaving NASA, aimed at promoting math and science for girls) confirmed.

The announcement of Ride's death noted that she is survived by her partner of 27 years, Tam O'Shaughnessy.  O'Shaughnessy is the COO and Executive Vice President of Sally Ride Science and a Professor Emerita of School Psychology at San Diego State University.

Ride made history in 1983 as a crew member on the space shuttle Challenger, breaking the gender barrier for U.S. spaceflight.

She was married to fellow astronaut Steven Hawley in 1982, but they divorced in 1987 with no children.