Learning Center Our Enshrinees

Kathryn Sullivan

  • Born in New Jersey in 1951, Kathryn Sullivan is the first American woman to walk in space served as the Mission Specialist on STS-31, the shuttle mission that launched the Hubble Space Telescope.
  • Her 2020 Dive to the deepest point in the ocean, the Challenger Deep, earned her three Guinness World Records. Including the most vertical person in the world, the first person to both fly in space and reach the deepest point, and the first woman to dive to the Challenger Deep.
  • Sullivan received her bachelor’s degree in Earth Sciences from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a doctorate in geology from Dalhousie University in 1978.
  • She joined NASA in 1978, joining NASA Group 8, the first NASA group to include women, and making her first trip into space aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1984.
  • Dr. Sullivan returned to space in 1990 aboard the “Discovery” with mission goals to deploy the Hubble Space Telescope and again in 1992 aboard the “Atlantis” to conduct multiple tests on human activity in Earth’s atmosphere.
  • In 1992, she was Payload Commander for the Atlas-1 space mission, studying the physics and chemistry of the upper atmosphere.
  • In 1993, President Bill Clinton appointed her Chief Scientist of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
  • In 1996, after departing NOAA, Sullivan became the President and CEO of COSI of Columbus, Ohio. Sullivan built the museum’s new facility, expanded the audience, membership, and fundraising, and partnered in launching the Metro School, an early career science high school serving central Ohio.
  • She returned to Federal Service at NOAA in 2011, first as Assistant Secretary/Deputy Administrator (2011-2-13), and then as Under Secretary/Administrator (2013-2017).

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