Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, passed away at the age of 61, leaving behind her longtime female partner.
Ride, who suffered from pancreatic cancer, died peacefully Monday. Born in Los Angeles in 1951, Ride obtained degrees in physics and English before signing up to become a NASA astronaut in 1977; it was the first time women were allowed in space. Ride apparently wasn’t out then — it's unlikely an openly gay person would be allowed to become an astronaut at the time, as the government believed gays represented security risks thanks to potential blackmail situations. She was actually married to a fellow astronaut, Steven Hawley, during part of her time with NASA