Dr. Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, passed away Monday at the age of 61 after losing a prolonged battle with pancreatic cancer.

Ride, who also had the distinction of being the youngest American in space, is the founder of the San Diego-based Sally Ride Science, which is dedicated to supporting young students' interest in science, math and technology.

Ride is survived by her partner of 27 years, Dr. Tam O'Shaughnessy, the executive vice president of Sally Ride Science, her mother Joyce and sister Bear.

President Barack Obama reflected on Ride's life: "As the first American woman to travel into space, Sally was a national hero and a powerful role model. She inspired generations of young girls to reach for the stars and later fought tirelessly to help them get there by advocating for a greater focus on science and math in our schools. Sally's life showed us that there are no limits to what we can achieve and I have no doubt that her legacy will endure for years to come."

Ride met O'Shaughnessy in 1985, just two years after she made history as the first American female in space aboard the NASA space shuttle Challenger.