Former NASA Astronaut Becomes The First Woman To Dive To Deepest Point On Earth
Former NASA astronaut Dr. Kathy Sullivan has made history once again by becoming the first woman to dive to the lowest point on Earth, having reached the bottom of the notorious Challenger Deep.
Challenger Deep is a trench inside a huge abyss in the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench, and those who want to get to the bottom must dive 36,000ft (approximately 6.8 miles) underwater inside a submersible named Limited Factor (LF).
Dr. Sullivan, 68 – a veteran of no fewer than three space expeditions – is also the first woman to have walked in space, having achieved this first incredible milestone in 1983.
Dr. Sullivan and the submarine’s chief pilot, 54-year-old Victor Vescovo, made a safe return to the expedition ship DSSV Pressure Drop on Saturday, June 6, celebrating their achievement by contacting the International Space Station (ISS).
Drawing comparisons with the ISS and LF, Eyos Expeditions describes the sub as being the first ever vehicle in history to repeatedly travel to the deepest part of the ocean, capable of operating with the equivalent of having 2,200 tonnes of pressure pushing down on the hatch.
In a statement regarding Sullivan’s remarkable feat, EYOS Expeditions expedition leader Rob McCallum said:
It was amazing to set up a conversation between two ‘spacecraft’; one operating as a platform for research in outer space, the other an exploration vehicle for ‘inner space’.
Two groups of humans using cutting edge technology to explore the outer edges of our world. It highlighted the vast span of human endeavour while at the same time linking us close together as fellow explorers.
We are well used to our clients being ambitious in their quest to explore… but this was a new ‘first’.
Dr. Sullivan is the eighth person to have reached the very bottom of the Challenger Deep, which is approximately one mile deeper than the height of Mount Everest.
The first two explorers to reach the bottom were Don Walsh and Jacques Picard back in 1960. Titanic director James Cameron also went on to achieve this in 2012.
Dr. Sullivan said:
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.
In 2019, pilot Victor Vescovo became the fourth person to reach Challenger Deep as part of his intense Five Deeps expedition; which saw him and his team make five dives in the Mariana Trench over the course of seven days.
Speaking about Dr. Sullivan’s latest achievement, Vescovo said:
We made some more history today… and then got to share the experience with kindred spirits in the ISS. It was a pleasure to have Kathy along both as an oceanographer during the dive, and then as an astronaut to talk to the ISS.
Outer space and the deepest depths of the ocean? Is there anything Dr. Kathy Sullivan won’t do?
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