First woman to dive to lowest point on Earth: Kathy Sullivan sets world record

Kathy Sullivan just added another record to her illustrious career by becoming the first woman to visit Challenger Deep — the bottom of the Mariana Trench — during a daring expedition. Thirty-six years after blasting off in the Space Shuttle Challenger, Sullivan was aboard Caladan Oceanic's flagship support vessel the DSSV Pressure Drop en route to the famous dive spot off the coast of Guam. ‘This is the most exclusive destination on Earth,’ said EYOS Expeditions expedition leader Rob McCallum. ‘More people have been to the moon than to the bottom of the ocean.' Once at the targeted destination on June 6, she and Caladan Oceanic's CEO, undersea explorer Victor Vescovo, boarded the "Limiting Factor" submersible and dropped to the deepest point on the planet at 35,810 feet in a history-making adventure. LF, built by Florida-based Company Triton Submarines, is the first vehicle in history that has repeatedly gone to the deepest point in the ocean. Selected by NASA in January 1978, Dr. Sullivan became an astronaut in August 1979. A veteran of three space flights, Dr 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). Sullivan performed the first extra-vehicular activity (EVA) by an American woman during STS-41-G on October 11, 1984. Sullivan and mission specialist David Leestma performed a 3.5-hour spacewalk in which they operated a system designed to show that a satellite could be refueled in orbit. The first American woman to walk in space, Dr. Sullivan is a veteran of three shuttle missions and a 2004 inductee to the Astronaut Hall of Fame. The Mariana Trench or Marianas Trench is located in the western Pacific Ocean about 200 kilometers (124 mi) east of the Mariana Islands; it is the deepest oceanic trench on Earth. It is crescent-shaped and measures about 2,550 km (1,580 mi) in length and 69 km (43 mi) in width. The maximum known depth is 10,984 meters (36,037 ft) (± 25 meters [82 ft]) (6.825 miles) at the southern end of a small slot-shaped valley in its floor known as the Challenger Deep. In 2009, the Marianas Trench was established as a United States National Monument.

 

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