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Sally Kristen Ride (May 26, 1951 – July 23, 2012) was an American physicist and astronaut. Ride joined NASA in 1978 and, at the age of 32, became the first American woman to enter into low Earth orbit in 1983. She is also the first known astronaut to have been in a long-term same-sex relationship. In 1987, she left NASA to work at Stanford University's Center for International Security and Arms Control. She served on the investigation panels for two space shuttle disasters, Challenger and Columbia, the only person to serve on both. Ride remains the youngest American astronaut to be launched into space.