© 2024 Connecticut Public

FCC Public Inspection Files:
WPKT · WRLI-FM · WEDW-FM · Public Files Contact
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

1st U.S. Woman To Walk In Space Dives To Deepest Point In The Ocean

Kathy Sullivan and pilot Victor Vescovo, seen after their dive to Challenger Deep.
Courtesy of Enrique Alvarez
Kathy Sullivan and pilot Victor Vescovo, seen after their dive to Challenger Deep.

Kathy Sullivan has seen her share of highs and lows.

Sullivan, the first U.S. woman to walk in space, a veteran of three shuttle missions and an enshrined member of the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, took a perilous journey downward this week.

She became the first woman to reach Challenger Deep, the deepest known point on Earth, in the Pacific.

On Monday, shortly after completing the expedition in their submersible, Sullivan and her fellow diver Victor Vescovo — who was already one of just a handful of people in the world to reach Challenger Deep — coordinated a call with the International Space Station.

"As a hybrid oceanographer and astronaut this was an extraordinary day, a once in a lifetime day," she said in a statement released by EYOS Expeditions, which supported the expedition.

You may remember the name of the site — which rests nearly 7 miles beneath the water's surface, in the Mariana Trench near Guam — from director James Cameron's solo dive in 2012. At the time, Cameron's was the first manned expedition to the area in more than half a century.

Since then, Vescovo has piloted several different missions to the depths of Challenger Deep. All told, EYOS Expeditions said that just seven people had reached the point before Sullivan, all of whom were men.

Sullivan, who became an astronaut in 1979, made history in 1984 as the first U.S. woman to walk in space. (Soviet cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya was the first in the world to perform a spacewalk, several months earlier.) Sullivan logged more than 532 hours in space before leaving NASA for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, where she ultimately served as the administrator.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Colin Dwyer covers breaking news for NPR. He reports on a wide array of subjects — from politics in Latin America and the Middle East, to the latest developments in sports and scientific research.

Stand up for civility

This news story is funded in large part by Connecticut Public’s Members — listeners, viewers, and readers like you who value fact-based journalism and trustworthy information.

We hope their support inspires you to donate so that we can continue telling stories that inform, educate, and inspire you and your neighbors. As a community-supported public media service, Connecticut Public has relied on donor support for more than 50 years.

Your donation today will allow us to continue this work on your behalf. Give today at any amount and join the 50,000 members who are building a better—and more civil—Connecticut to live, work, and play.

Related Content