• Nationality


  • Missions

    STS-41‑G, STS-31, STS-45

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Kathryn D. Sullivan




Video Greeting

Kathryn D. Sullivan is an American geol­o­gist, oceanog­ra­ph­er, NASA astro­naut and US Navy officer. 

Kathryn Dwyer Sullivan was born on October 3, 1951 in Paterson, New Jersey, U.S. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Earth sci­ences from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a Doctorate in geol­o­gy from Dalhousie University (Halifax, Nova Scotia). Sullivan was also award­ed hon­orary degrees by Kent State University (2002); Ohio Dominican University (1998); Stevens Institute of Technology (1992); State University of New York, Utica (1991); Dalhousie University (1985). Most of Kathryn Sullivan’s efforts pri­or to join­ing NASA were con­cen­trat­ed in aca­d­e­m­ic study and research. She was an earth sci­ences major at the University of California, Santa Cruz and spent 1971 – 1972 as an exchange stu­dent at the University of Bergen, Norway. Sullivan’s doc­tor­al stud­ies at Dalhousie University includ­ed par­tic­i­pa­tion in a vari­ety of oceano­graph­ic expe­di­tions, under the aus­pices of the U.S. Geological Survey, Wood’s Hole Oceanographic Institute and the Bedford Institute. 

Selected by NASA in January 1978, Kathryn Sullivan became an astro­naut in August 1979. Her Shuttle sup­port assign­ments since then include: soft­ware devel­op­ment; launch and land­ing lead chase pho­tog­ra­ph­er; Orbiter and car­go test, check­out and launch sup­port at Kennedy Space Center, Florida; extrave­hic­u­lar activ­i­ty (EVA) and space­suit sup­port crew for sev­er­al flights; and cap­sule com­mu­ni­ca­tor (CAPCOM) in Mission Control for numer­ous Shuttle mis­sions. A vet­er­an of three space flights, Sullivan was a mis­sion spe­cial­ist on STS-41G (October 5 – 13, 1984), STS-31 (April 24 – 29, 1990) and STS-45 (March 24-April 2, 1992). Kathryn Sullivan became the first female American astro­naut to step out­side her spacecraft. 

After spend­ing a total of 532 hours in space, Sullivan left NASA in 1993 to take a series of dis­tin­guished posi­tions, includ­ing the chief sci­en­tist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and as the admin­is­tra­tor of NOAA. In between NOAA stints, she spent ten years as pres­i­dent and CEO of the Center of Science and Industry (COSI) in Columbus, Ohio, and five years as the first direc­tor of the Battelle Center for Mathematics and Science Education Policy at The Ohio State University.

In 2020, Kathryn Sullivan made his­to­ry again by becom­ing the first woman to vis­it the deep­est spot in the oceans, the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench, sev­en miles below the sur­face of the Pacific Ocean. Sullivan makes the eighth per­son and the first woman to reach the bot­tom, which is 35,853 feet below sea lev­el. She marked the occa­sion by mak­ing a phone call from the submersible’s moth­er­ship, DSSV Pressure Drop, to speak with the NASA astro­nauts on the International Space Station (ISS).

Kathryn D. Sullivan will unfor­tu­nate­ly not be able to be present in per­son, but will present a video mes­sage.