It has been more than three decades since Kathryn Sullivan became the first American woman to walk in space, but the former NASA astronaut is not done making history.
The 68-year-old has now become the first woman to reach the deepest known spot in the ocean after diving to the Challenge Deep, which lies nearly 7 miles below the Pacific’s Mariana Trench, an expedition company announced Monday.
Sullivan, who’s also an oceanographer, made the trip over the weekend with pilot and investor Victor Vescovo. Upon returning to the surface on Sunday, the pair made a celebratory call to the crew aboard the International Space Station, which orbits at an altitude of about 250 miles, EYOS Expeditions said in a statement.
It was a historic day yesterday spanning space and sea as astronaut Dr. Kathy Sullivan became the first woman (and 8th person in history) to reach Challenger Deep at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. Afterwards, EYOS coordinated a call between the @iss (International Space Station) and Dr. Sullivan and sub pilot Victor Vescovo onboard @caladanoceanic’s Pressure Drop. Dr. Sullivan became the first American woman to conduct a spacewalk and is a three-time veteran of flights on the Space Shuttle. Today she 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 recent launch of @spacex ‘s Crew Dragon highlighted the exciting potential of private companies’ contributions to the technological advancement of space flight. The Limiting Factor is a privately funded hadal exploration vehicle built by @tritonsubmarines that has transformed our ability to explore the deep ocean. The ISS is in Low Earth orbit at an altitude of 408 kms (254 miles) while the LF operates at a depth of nearly 7 miles. 📸: @rico1835 #internationalspacestation #innerspace #outerspace #hadalzone #exploration #womenwhoexplore #space #ocean
A post shared by EYOS Expeditions (@eyosexpeditions) on Jun 7, 2020 at 8:54am PDT
The trip also makes Sullivan the first person to both walk in space and reach the deepest point in Earth’s oceans.
“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 told EYOS, which helped coordinate the mission.
Sullivan, a veteran of three shuttle missions, joined NASA in the late 1970s and became the first U.S. woman to walk in space in October 1984, according a biography on the agency’s website.
She’s the eighth person to descend to the Challenge Deep, joining a group that includes Oscar-winning director James Cameron, who made a record-breaking solo dive in 2012.