Kathy Sullivan: Meet the first person ever to visit the deepest point on Earth and outer space

Kathy Sullivan and pilot Victor Vescovo, seen after their dive to Challenger Deep. Image Source: Enrique Alvarez

Kathy Sullivan is not new to setting records and creating history.

A former NASA astronaut, Sullivan, in October 1984, created history by becoming the first woman in the United States to walk in space.

And now, she has set another brilliant record!

On 7th June 2020, she became the first woman ever in the world to reach Challenger Deep, the deepest point in Earth’s oceans. In the process, she also became the first person to reach both, outer space and the deepest point on Earth.

She is also the only eighth person in history to make the dive to Challenger Deep.

An oceanographer, Sullivan dived to Challenger Deep, which is at a depth of 10,928 meters (35,853 feet) in the western Pacific Ocean. This was done as part of the Ring of Fire Expedition organized by bespoke adventure company EYOS Expeditions in collaboration with undersea technology specialist Caladan Oceanic.

Sullivan, 68, copiloted a submersible built by Triton Submarines and Caladan Ocean called the Limiting Factor with fellow scientist, adventurer, and explorer Victor Vescovo, who is the founder of Caladan Oceanic. Interestingly, this was Vescovo’s third voyage to Challenger Deep.

Once they were back to the surface, the two called the astronauts at the International Space Station.

“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,” she said in a statement released by EYOS Expeditions.

Meanwhile, Vescovo put a message on social media to confirm this voyage, congratulating Sullivan for her outstanding achievement.

It took them four hours to descend to the depth of over 35,000 feet, after which they spent 1 and a half hours on the floor of the ocean.

The water at this depth is always dark and frozen, and the pressure at the bottom of the sea floor is over 1,000 times the pressure at the sea level.

More about Kathy Sullivan…

Born on 3rd October 1951 in Paterson, New Jersey, Kathryn Sullivan is a geologist and a former NASA astronaut. She joined NASA in 1978 and on 11th October 1984, became the first American woman to walk in space during a Space Shuttle Challenger Mission. In her career with NASA, she also was a part of two other missions – Space Shuttle Discovery in 1990 and Space Shuttle Atlantis in 1992. In total, she completed around 532 hours in space.

Post her stint at NASA, Sullivan served as the administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

She also wrote a book titled ‘Handprints on Hubble: An Astronaut’s Story of Invention’, which was released from MIT Press in November 2019.

Isn’t this an absolutely remarkable achievement? What do you think? Do share your views with us in the comments section below.

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