Barack Obama announces highest civilian honour to first US woman astronaut Sally Ride

Washington:  US President Barack Obama has announced to award the nation's highest civilian honour posthumously to the first American female astronaut Dr Sally Ride for her contributions to the US space program and education system.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest civilian honour presented to individuals who have made meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the US, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavours.

"We remember Sally Ride not just as a national hero, but as a role model to generations of young women. Sally inspired us to reach for the stars, and she advocated for a greater focus on the science, technology, engineering and math that would help us get there," Obama said.

The US President said, "Sally showed us that there are no limits to what we can achieve, and I look forward to welcoming her family to the White House as we celebrate her life and legacy."

Ride created history when she became the first Americans female astronaut to travel into space in 1983.

After leaving NASA in 1987, she focused her efforts on science education and on teaching girls in particular that there are no limits to what they can accomplish.

In 2001, she founded Sally Ride Science to develop and provide classroom materials, programs, and professional development opportunities for K-12 science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) educators.

The White House said, she placed a strong emphasis on gender and racial equality in the classroom and on introducing students to working scientists, engineers and mathematicians who exemplified this diversity in their respective fields.

"And her devotion to the exploration of space never wavered, as multiple Administrations, including President Obama's, called on Dr Ride to serve on advisory boards focused on national space exploration efforts," the White House said.

The remainder of the honorees selected by the President will be announced over the coming weeks and the awards will be presented at a White House ceremony later this year.

Story First Published: May 21, 2013 10:40 IST

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