Kathy Sullivan - Astronaut

First American woman to walk in Space

Kathy Sullivan - Former NASA Astronaut

Kathy is an American Geologist and former NASA astronaut and was part of the first astronaut groups to include women. She was a crew member of three Space Shuttle missions spending a total of 532 hours in space.

Not only was Kathy the first American woman to walk in space but at age 68 she also became the first woman to travel almost seven miles (11km) to reach the lowest known point in the ocean.

These two polar opposite missions completed by Kathy, represent her lifelong passion to better understand the world around her.

Kathy applied to Nasa to help deepen her knowledge of the Earth with her primary motivation to see Earth from orbit with her own eyes. Sullivan was recruited to NASA’s class of 1978, the first to feature female recruits.

Kathy made history on the 11th October 1984 when she became the first American woman to walk in space on a mission to demonstrate the feasibility of an orbital refueling system. She continued her space career, with two more missions and spent a total of 532 hours in space.

Kathy says:

“My spacewalk was three and a half hours long. It’s a spacewalk that counts but that’s actually very short as spacewalks go,” 

“I was just delighted to see women come after me and do, you know, much more elaborate, much more complicated, much more demanding spacewalks.”

After leaving NASA in 1993, Kathy went on to serve as chief scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). She later became the NOAA administrator under President Obama. Between those positions she spent years as president and CEO of the Center of Science and Industry (COSI) and was the Director for Ohio State University’s Battelle Center for Mathematics and Science Education Policy. Under her leadership, COSI strengthened its impact on science teaching in the classroom and its national reputation as an innovator of hands-on, inquiry-based science learning resources.