Former NASA astronaut Kathy Sullivan became the first woman and eighth person ever to reach Challenger Deep, the deepest point in any ocean, on Sunday.
It wasn’t the first record-breaking moment of her career.
Sullivan, who is now 68, was one of the first women selected for the NASA Astronaut Corps in 1978. She became the first American woman to complete a spacewalk in 1984, outside the Challenger space shuttle.
After her astronaut days ended, Sullivan led the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Sullivan almost didn’t pursue a career in science when she entered college, she planned to major in languages and become a translator. But she applied to NASA’s call for astronauts on a whim, assuming she wouldn’t be chosen. Since then, Sullivan’s career has taken her to some of the most interesting places on and off of Earth.
She graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz, with a degree in Earth sciences in 1973.Sullivan got her Ph.D. in geology from Dalhousie University in Canada in 1978.
On October 11, 1984, Sullivan exited the Space Shuttle Challenger to fix part of the spacecraft. In doing so, she became the first female American astronaut to do a spacewalk.