Jun 9, 2020 - Science

First American woman to walk in space makes historic dive

A photo of Kathy Sullivan as a NASA astronaut

Kathy Sullivan when she was a NASA astronaut. Photo: NASA

Kathy Sullivan has become the first woman in the world to reach the lowest point on Earth, the Challenger Deep.

Why it matters: The 68-year-old former NASA astronaut and oceanographer became in 1984 the first American woman to walk in space. Now she's "the first human to have been in space and at full ocean depth," said EYOS Expeditions, a firm coordinating the mission' logistics, in a statement on Monday.

  • Sullivan is only the eighth person to reach the bottom of the Challenger Deep. ("Titanic" director James Cameron is also in this exclusive diving club.)

Driving the news: Sullivan and Victor Vescovo, an explorer funding the mission, completed their dive of almost 36,000 feet, or nearly seven miles, in the western Pacific Ocean's Mariana Trench, some 200 miles southwest of Guam, in a submersible named Limited Factor on Sunday.

  • After their historic dive, Sullivan and Vescovo called the crew of the International Space Station.

What she's saying: "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," Sullivan said in a statement in EYOS Expeditions' post.

  • Sullivan posted one word to her blog on Monday to announce her momentous feat: "Success!"

Editor’s note: The headline in this article was updated to clarify that Sullivan was the first American woman to walk in space.

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