Kathryn D. Sullivan is an American geologist, oceanographer, NASA astronaut and US Navy officer. She was a crew member on three Space Shuttle missions.
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).