In this NASA photo posted on sallyridescience.com, the former astronaut is seen floating in space.
Former astronaut and Encino native Sally Ride has died after a 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer.
The renowned physicist died peacefully in her sleep on Monday at the age of 61, according to her company, Sally Ride Science.
"Sally lived her life to the fullest, with boundless energy, curiosity, intelligence, passion, joy, and love," according to a statement on her website. "Her integrity was absolute; her spirit was immeasurable; her approach to life was fearless."
Ride was born May 26, 1951, and spent her childhood in Encino, according to her bio.
In 1977, NASA began looking for scientists and engineers; they previously only accepted military test pilots. Ride held degrees in English and physics from Stanford University when she read about the new NASA qualifications in the newspaper.
She flew into space aboard the Challenger shuttle on June 18, 1983. She was just 31 years old.
One year later, she went to space again aboard the STS 41-G.
"The thing that I'll remember most about the flight is that it was fun," Ride is quoted as saying in her biography. "In fact, I'm sure it was the most fun I'll ever have in my life."
Ride and her crew aboard the Challenger during its first mission deployed several satellites and conducted small experiments for research institutions.
"I'm very proud of having been the first American woman to go up in the space shuttle and to have accomplished what I was supposed to accomplish during that flight," said Ride during an interview with San Diego's NBC 7 in 1998.
In the interview, Ride was modest about her impact on the science world, and avoided glorifying her space exploration endeavors.
"I didn't really feel like a hero," Ride said. "I didn't really feel like a pioneer."
She added that she would have loved to go back into space, and would jump at the chance.
NASA issued a statement Monday following the news of Ride's passing.
"The soft-spoken California physicist broke the gender barrier 29 years ago when she rode to orbit aboard space shuttle Challenger to become America’s first woman in space," the statement, in part, read.
After she retired from NASA in 1987, she started Sally Ride Science in San Diego, a program encouraging young boys and girls to pursue education and careers in science and technology.
She remained active in the lives of young students, appearing more recently at the San Diego Air and Space Museum's Space Day celebration in May. Ride was also a Professor of Physics Emerita at the UC San Diego, according to the university's website.
Ride is survived by her partner of 27 years Tam O’Shaughnessy, her mother Joyce, her sister Bear, her niece Caitlin and nephew Whitney.