Sally Ride is an icon, and not just for being the first US woman to go into space — after responding to a NASA ad in the newspaper, no less. Her life and work helped a generation of kids think about science not as some esoteric abstraction, but as a real option they could pursue. She wanted to "make science and engineering cool again." The New York Times takes a look at Ride’s life, from a self-described high school "underachiever" to a nationally ranked tennis player and astrophysicist. On the subject of becoming the first female American astronaut, Ride famously said, "it’s too bad this is such a big deal." She passed away on Monday from pancreatic cancer.