Sally Ride, who died of pancreatic cancer Monday at the age of 61, was the first American woman to fly into space. But she was far from the last. In the years since Ride blasted off aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger on June 18, 1983, 44 more American women flown in space. Two-hundred-ninety American men have made the journey.

Ride wasn't always comfortable in the spotlight. In a 2003 interview reported by the Associated Press, she called her selection as an astronaut a "huge honor," but added that, "On the other hand, it sure did complicate things. I'm the sort of person who likes to be able to just walk into the supermarket and not be recognized."

But Ride recognized how she might use her celebrity to encourage more girls and women to pursue careers, not only in space programs but also in other scientific and technical fields. She started her own company, Sally Ride Science, to do just that.

And it seems she succeeded.

Calling Ride a "national hero and a role model," President Obama said in a statement that she "inspired generations of young girls to reach for the stars," AP reported.

Pamela Melroy, who flew into space in 2000, 2002, and 2007, told Space.com in an email: "I knew I wanted to be an astronaut from watching the Apollo astronauts land on the moon, but Sally cemented the belief inside me that I could do it. She paved the way for women to work in space and made it so much easier for other women to follow where she led."

NASA administrator Charles Bolden said Ride "broke barriers with grace and professionalism--and literally changed the face of America's space program."

Click below to see a gallery of all 56 women astronauts (including the two female cosmonauts who beat Ride into space):

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  • Wang Yaping

    China Second Chinese woman in space. Shenzhou 10 (June 11, 2013)

  • Liu Yang

    China First Chinese woman in space. Shenzhou 9 (June 16, 2012)

  • Shannon Walker

    United States Soyuz TMA-19 (June 15, 2010)

  • Naoko Yamazaki

    Japan STS-131 (April 5, 2010)

  • Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger

    United States STS-131 (April 5, 2010)

  • Nicole P. Stott

    United States STS-128 (August 28, 2009) STS-133 (February 24, 2011)

  • K. Megan McArthur

    United States STS-125 (May 11, 2009)

  • Karen L. Nyberg

    United States STS-124 (May 31, 2008)

  • Yi So-yeon

    Republic of Korea First Korean in space. STS-124 (May 31, 2008)

  • Barbara Morgan

    United States STS-118 (Aug. 8, 2007)

  • Tracy Caldwell Dyson

    United States STS-118 (Aug. 8, 2007) Soyuz TMA-18 (April 2, 2010)

  • Joan Higginbotham

    United States STS-116 (Dec. 9, 2006)

  • Sunita Williams

    United States STS-116/117 (Dec. 9, 2006) Soyuz TMA-05M (July 15, 2012)

  • Anousheh Ansari

    United States, Iran First female space tourist, first Iranian in space. Soyuz TMA-9/8 (Sep. 18, 2006)

  • Heidemarie M. Stefanyshyn-Piper

    United States STS-115 (Sep. 9, 2006) STS-126 (Nov. 14, 2008)

  • Lisa Nowak

    United States STS-121 (Jul. 4, 2006)

  • Stephanie Wilson

    United States STS-121 (Jul. 4, 2006) STS-120 (Oct. 23, 2007) STS-131 (Apr. 5, 2010)

  • Laurel B. Clark

    United States Died in the Columbia disaster. STS-107 (Feb. 1, 2003) <strong>Correction</strong>: A previous version of this slide said that Laurel Clark died in the Challenger disaster. Clark actually died in the Columbia disaster.

  • Sandra Magnus

    United States STS-112 (Oct. 7, 2002) STS-126/119 (Nov. 14, 2008) STS-135 (July 8, 2011)

  • Peggy Whitson

    United States STS-111/113 (Jun. 5, 2002) Soyuz TMA-11 (Oct. 10, 2007)

  • Pamela Melroy

    United States STS-92 (Oct. 11, 2000) STS-112 (Oct. 7, 2002) STS-120 (Oct. 23, 2007)

  • Julie Payette

    Canada STS-96 (May 27, 1999) STS-127 (July 15, 2009)

  • Janet L. Kavandi

    United States STS-91 (Jun. 2, 1998) STS-99 (Feb. 11, 2000) STS-104 (Jul. 12, 2001)

  • Kathryn P. Hire

    United States STS-90 (Apr. 17, 1998) STS-130 (Feb. 8, 2010)

  • Kalpana Chawla

    United States First Indian-American woman in space, died in the Columbia disaster. STS-87 (Nov. 19, 1997) STS-107 (Feb. 1, 2003)

  • Susan Still Kilrain

    United States STS-83 (Apr. 4, 1997) STS-94 (Jul. 1, 1997)

  • Claudie Haigneré

    France First Frenchwoman in space. Soyuz TM-24/TM-23 (Aug. 17, 1996) Soyuz TM-33/32 (Oct. 21, 2001)

  • Catherine Coleman

    United States STS-73 (Oct. 20, 1995) STS-93 (Jul. 23, 1999) Soyuz TMA-20 (15 December 2010)

  • Mary E. Weber

    United States STS-70 (Jul. 13, 1995) STS-101 (May 19, 2000)

  • Wendy Lawrence

    United States STS-67 (Mar. 2, 1995) STS-86 (Sep. 25, 1997) STS-91 (Jun. 2, 1998) STS-114 (Jul. 26, 2005)

  • Eileen Collins

    United States First female shuttle pilot and shuttle commander. STS-63 (Feb. 3, 1995) STS-84 (May 15, 1997) STS-93 (Jul. 23, 1999) STS-114 (Jul. 26, 2005)

  • Yelena V. Kondakova

    Russia Soyuz TM-20 (Oct. 3, 1994) STS-84 (May 15, 1997)

  • Chiaki Mukai

    Japan First Japanese woman in space. STS-65 (Jul. 8, 1994) STS-95 (Oct. 29, 1998)

  • Nancy Currie

    United States STS-57 (Jun. 21, 1993) STS-70 (Jul. 13, 1995) STS-88 (Dec. 4, 1998) STS-109 (Mar. 1, 2002)

  • Janice E. Voss

    United States STS-57 (Jun. 21, 1993) STS-63 (Feb. 3, 1995) STS-83 (Apr. 4, 1997) STS-94 (Jul. 1, 1997) STS-99 (Feb. 11, 2000)

  • Ellen Ochoa

    United States First Hispanic woman in space. STS-56 (Apr. 8, 1993) STS-66 (Nov. 3, 1994) STS-96 (May 27, 1999) STS-110 (Apr. 8, 2002)

  • Susan J. Helms

    United States STS-54 (Jan. 13, 1993) STS-64 (Sep. 9, 1994) STS-78 (Jun. 20, 1996) STS-101 (May 19, 2000) STS-102/105 (Mar. 8, 2001)

  • Mae Jemison

    United States First African-American woman in space. STS-47 (Sep. 12, 1992)

  • Jan Davis

    United States STS-47 (Sep. 12, 1992) STS-60 (Feb. 3, 1994) STS-85 (Aug. 7, 1997)

  • Roberta Bondar

    Canada First Canadian woman in space. STS-42 (Jan. 22, 1992)

  • Millie Hughes-Fulford

    United States STS-40 (Jun. 5, 1991)

  • Tamara E. Jernigan

    United States STS-40 (Jun. 5, 1991) STS-52 (Oct. 22, 1992) STS-67 (Mar. 2, 1995) STS-80 (Nov. 19, 1996) STS-96 (May 27, 1999)

  • Helen Sharman

    United Kingdom First Briton in space. Soyuz TM-12/TM-11 (May 18, 1991)

  • Linda M. Godwin

    United States STS-37 (Apr. 5, 1991) STS-59 (Apr. 9, 1994) STS-76 (Mar. 22, 1996) STS-108 (Dec. 5, 2001)

  • Marsha Ivins

    United States STS-32 (Jan. 9, 1990) STS-46 (Jul. 31, 1992) STS-62 (Mar. 4, 1994) STS-81 (Jan. 12, 1997) STS-98 (Feb. 7, 2001)

  • Kathryn C. Thorton

    United States STS-33 (Nov. 22, 1989) STS-49 (May 7, 1992) STS-61 (Dec. 2, 1993) STS-73 (Oct. 20, 1995)

  • Ellen S. Baker

    United States STS-34 (Oct. 18, 1989) STS-50 (Jun. 25, 1992) STS-71 (Jun. 27, 1995)

  • Mary L. Cleave

    United States STS-61-B (Nov. 26, 1985) STS-30 (May 4, 1989)

  • Bonnie J. Dunbar

    United States STS-61-A (Oct. 30, 1985) STS-32 (Jan. 9, 1990) STS-50 (Jun. 25, 1992) STS-71 (Jun. 27, 1995) STS-89 (Jan. 22, 1998)

  • Shannon Lucid

    United States STS-51-G (Jun. 17, 1985), STS-34 (Oct. 18, 1989) STS-43 (Aug. 2, 1991) STS-58 (Oct. 18, 1993) STS-76/79 (Mar. 22, 1996)

  • Margaret Rhea Seddon

    United States STS-51-D (Apr. 12, 1985) STS-40 (Jun. 5, 1991) STS-58 (Oct. 18, 1993)

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