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Navy research ship named for Sally Ride, first U.S. woman in space

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An artist's rendering of the Armstrong-class auxiliary general oceanographic research vessel. (U.S. Navy photo) An artist's rendering of the Armstrong-class auxiliary general oceanographic research vessel. (U.S. Navy photo)
Astronaut Sally Ride, monitors control panels from the pilot's chair on the flight deck during STS-7, which launched from Kennedy Space Center, Fla., June 18, 1983. (NASA photo) Astronaut Sally Ride, monitors control panels from the pilot's chair on the flight deck during STS-7, which launched from Kennedy Space Center, Fla., June 18, 1983. (NASA photo)
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The United States Navy will name a research ship after the late Sally Ride, a NASA astronaut and the first American woman to travel into space.

"Sally Ride's career was one of firsts and will inspire generations to come," Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said in a statement. "I named R/V Sally Ride to honor a great researcher, but also to encourage generations of students to continue exploring, discovering and reaching for the stars." 

After her career as an astronaut ended, Ride served as director of NASA's Office of Exploration, taught physics at UC-San Diego, and founded Sally Ride Science, a company that develops science programs for 4th to 8th graders.

Ride died of pancreatic cancer in 2012.  She was 61.

The Sally Ride will be a 238-foot Armstrong-class auxiliary general oceanographic research vessel, also known as an AGOR ship, equipped with ocean-mapping equipment, onboard laboratories, and more.

Although owned by the Navy's Office of Naval Research, AGOR ships are operated by crews of scientists and commercial mariners. The Scripps Institution of Oceanography will operate the Sally Ride under charter.

By tradition, AGOR ships are named for leaders in exploration and science. Sally Ride will be the first academic research ship to be named for a woman, according to the Navy.

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