(WFAA) -- Dr. Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, has died at age 61. Ride had been battling pancreatic cancer.
She rocketed into space on June 18, 1983 aboard the space shuttle Challenger, opening the door to 30 other American women who followed her into orbit.
She was also aboard Challenger when it flew an eight-day orbital mission in October, 1984.
According to her official NASA biography, Ride joined the astronaut class of 1978.
She was also a member of the investigative panel called to review the Columbia and Challenger disasters.
President Barack Obama is calling her a national hero and a "powerful role model". In a statement, the president says Ride "inspired generations of young girls to reach for the stars" and "fought tirelessly to help them get there by advocating for a greater focus on science and math" in the nation's schools.
Dr. Ride was inducted into the National Women's Hall of fame and the Astronaut Hall of Fame and has received the Jefferson Award for Public Service, the Von Braun Award, the Lindbergh Eagle and the NCAA’s Theodore Roosevelt Award. She has also twice been awarded the NASA Space Flight Medal, according to NASA's biography.