Sally Ride
Sally RideWikimedia Commons/Craigboy

Sally Ride, the first American woman to float in space, has been honoured by Google with a doodle on what would have been her 64th birthday.

Reciepient of the the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States, Ride died on 23 July, 2012, at the age of 61, 17 months after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. 

Ride, who remains the youngest American astronaut to travel to space and the first known LGBT astronaut, became an inspiration for many science enthusiasts, young girls and an icon of the gay community. 

"Everywhere I go I meet girls and boys who want to be astronauts and explore space, or they love the ocean and want to be oceanographers, or they love animals and want to be zoologists, or they love designing things and want to be engineers. I want to see those same stars in their eyes in 10 years and know they are on their way!" Ride used to tell Tam O'Shaughnessy, her partner of 27 years, according to TIME. 

Sally Ride Science, formed by Ride and O'Shaughnessy in 2012, organises programmes and study guides to help make science interesting and fun for young people. O'Shaughnessy now serves as the Chief Executive Officer and Chair of the Board of Sally Ride Science.

Here are some thought-provoking quotes of Sally Ride:

  • (On astronaut training) Weightlessness is a great equaliser.
  • I think it's important for little girls growing up, and young women, to have one in every walk of life. So from that point of view, I'm proud to be a role model!
  • For a long time, society put obstacles in the way of women who wanted to enter the sciences... Until the playing field has been levelled and lingering stereotypes are gone, you can't even ask the question.
  • I've discovered that half the people would love to go into space and there's no need to explain it to them. The other half can't understand and I couldn't explain it to them. If someone doesn't know why, I can't explain it.
  • I would like to be remembered as someone who was not afraid to do what she wanted to do, and as someone who took risks along the way in order to achieve her goals.