The Washington Times - July 23, 2012, 06:08PM

President Obama paid tribute to the late Sally Ride, America’s first female astronaut, as “a national hero and a powerful role model.”

“Michelle and I were deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Sally Ride,” Mr. Obama said in a statement after it was announced Monday that Ms. Ride had died at age 61. “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.”

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The president added, “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. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Sally’s family and friends.”