Science

The first American woman to spacewalk has now conquered the deepest ocean

The first American woman to spacewalk has now conquered the deepest ocean”

Almost 25 years after she became the first United States woman to walk in space, Sullivan became the first woman to ever reach Challenger Deep, the deepest point in our planet's oceans. Sullivan, 68, spent about an hour and a half capturing images at Challenger Deep after descending to the spot 6.8 miles down in the Mariana Trench, about 200 miles southwest of Guam, in a deep-sea research submersible called the Limiting Factor-the only submarine now able to reach Challenger Deep.

EYOS Expeditions helped facilitate the Challenger Deep and International Space Station communication.

'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, ' said Sullivan.

'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'.

Sullivan started her career as one of the first women inducted into NASA's astronaut corps in 1978, and became the first American female astronaut to walk in space in 1984.

Since then, Vescovo has piloted several different missions to the depths of the Challenger Deep. Advertisement According to Sullivan's blog, visiting Challenger Deep subjects Limiting Factor's hull to a pressure "akin to the weight of 291 jumbo jets or 7,900 double-decker buses".

'More people have been to the moon than to the bottom of the ocean.

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"Three Mission Specialists on the expedition are at the forefront of scientific research into the ocean's virtually unknown Hadal Zone", said Rob McCallum of EYOS Expeditions, which set up the Five Deeps and Ring of Fire expeditions.

"Two groups of humans using cutting edge technology to explore the outer edges of our world".

Sullivan and Vescovo's advanced subsea craft was the first commercially-certified full-ocean-depth DSV (deep submergence vehicle). It highlighted the vast span of human endeavour while at the same time linking us close together as fellow explorers. On October 11, 1984, she became the first American woman to walk in space.

Dr. Kathy Sullivan and Victor Vescovo.

After the journey to the ocean floor, the crew of the submersible contacted the International Space Station (ISS), which was in low Earth orbit at an altitude of about 408 kilometres. During her 15-year NASA run, she flew on three Space Shuttle missions, including the flight that deployed the Hubble Space Telescope in 1990.

She later became the administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

"I hope that spark is ignited within them of intrigue and curiosity, about the ingenuity of engineering, of science, of the mystery of the ocean ... and that it would inspire another young Kathy Sullivan, who as a teenager interested in the ocean would never have imagined being the first woman to reach the bottom of it".



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