Sally Ride - America's first female astronaut - has passed away at age 61.  She died at her home in San Diego Monday after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

Ride took a ride on the shuttle Challenger on a historic day - June 18, 1983.  I remember this well because I graduated from college that same year,  looking to forge my way into a career in Journalism.  "I am woman, hear me roar," as Helen Reddy once sang.

Sally Ride not only roared, she flew into space as the first woman to achieve the status of woman astronaut.

Women were really coming into their own in the early '80s.   The space traveling woman set a standard for women in aviation and as a physicist.   The Associated Press reports  her company,  Sally Ride Science, announced her death on its web site.

I know the world will miss Sally Ride, literally, but hopefully there are some other women out there like her,  who can achieve a level of  greatness that comes once in a lifetime.

It seemed that America was crazy for women success stories during this pivotal decade and Sally Ride had many fans.  She was only 32 when she first flew as an astronaut,  cementing her place in history also as the youngest American in space.

Young women reaching such heights was new, but tragedy would strike,  and according to the AP,  Dr. Ride became the only person to sit on both panels that investigated both shuttle accidents.

The Challenger exploded just after lift-off  in 1986, and the Columbia broke apart on re-entry in 2003,

Ride's command of physics,  a field of science dominated by men, made her better qualified than most as the first woman to take her place at NASA.