Kathy Sullivan, the First American Woman to Walk in Space, Is Now the First Woman to Reach Deepest Point in the Ocean

Kathy Sullivan, the First American Woman to Walk in Space, Is Now the First Woman to Reach Deepest Point in the Ocean

Former NASA astronaut Kathy Sullivan has become an inspiration for millions of women worldwide.

There aren't a lot of people in the world who can say that they have walked in space and also touched the proverbial bottom of the sea. Most people just dream of adventures that take them to places where no one else has ever been but there's one woman who stands apart from the crowd in terms of the things she has achieved. Former NASA astronaut Kathy Sullivan has etched her name in history by being the first American woman ever to walk in space and the first woman to dive deep into the ocean and reach the deepest point humans can, so far, possibly go.


As reported by CBS News, the US’s first female astronaut to spacewalk also dove to the Challenger Deep inside the Mariana Trench, and by doing so, becoming the first human to achieve both these extreme feats. According to EYOSExpedition, "In 1983, Dr. Sullivan, a veteran of three space shuttle flights, became the first American woman to walk in space. She is the 8th person to reach the bottom of the Challenger Deep (the first two were Don Walsh and Jacques Picard in 1960. James Cameron also reached the bottom of Challenger Deep in 2012)."

Kathy Sullivan (GettyImages-492351323/Brad Barket / Stringer)

The two adventures are worlds apart, as you probably would know, given the difference in the challenges one faces, the environmental conditions one finds, and the kind of mentality it takes to keep going. Spacewalk requires intensive training to walk in the absence of gravity and atmospheric pressure whereas an oceanic dive is just the opposite with a very real possibility of being crushed under the weight of the water.

Speaking about her experience, as reported in EYOS, Kathy Sullivan said, "As a hybrid oceanographer and astronaut this was an extraordinary day, a once in a lifetime day, seeing the moonscape of the Challenger Deep and then comparing notes with my colleagues on the ISS about our remarkable reusable inner-space outer-spacecraft."


The expedition that took Kathy to the heart of the ocean was undertaken by EYOS Expeditions which also coordinated a call between the International Space Station and the DSSV Pressure Drop, the two platforms at the two extreme ends of human exploration. The name of the underwater vehicle that took the crew is Limiting Factor, which according to the explorers, "operates at a crushing pressure equivalent to having 2,200 tonnes of pressure pressing down on the hatch." The almost 5-hour long expedition took Kathy 10,925 meters (35,000 feet) below the surface of the Pacific Ocean, according to CBS News.

It was an interesting part of human history as the two extreme frontiers were able to communicate with each other. Speaking about this experience, expedition leader Rob McCallum said, "It was amazing to set up a conversation between two ’spacecraft’; one operating as a platform for research in outer space, the other an exploration vehicle for 'inner space'. Two groups of humans using cutting edge technology to explore the outer edges of our world." He added: "It highlighted the vast span of human endeavour while at the same time linking us close together as fellow explorers. We are well used to our clients being ambitious in their quest to explore… but this was a new 'first.'"


The pilot of the ship Victor Vescovo added, "We made some more history today… and then got to share the experience with kindred spirits in the ISS. It was a pleasure to have Kathy along both as an oceanographer during the dive, and then as an astronaut to talk to the ISS." This was, then, an experience that would not only enrich our understanding of the different worlds but would also give a major boost to advanced scientific studies. As for Kathy, she has indeed become an inspiration for millions of women and girls worldwide who would know, through her example, that they could achieve anything if they tried hard enough.




Recommended for you