NASA astronaut Dr. Kathy Sullivan made headlines 36 years ago as the first American woman to perform extra-vehicular activity outside the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1984. She made headlines again on Saturday when she became the first woman to dive to the deepest known location on Earth, Challenger Deep.
Sullivan and Victor Vescovo descended approximately 6.7 miles below the ocean’s surface on Saturday into the Mariana Trench. This was the third time that Vescovo has made the 12-hour round-trip journey.
The pair spent about an hour and a half on the seabed before returning to the surface according to The New York Times.
Sullivan called the International Space Station orbiting 254 miles above to share the news when she returned to the ship.
“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,” said Sullivan, in a statement.
Sullivan is the only person in history to have visited both space and the deepest point in the ocean.
Only eight people, including film director James Cameron, have descended to Challenger Deep since it was first discovered in 1951 by the British survey vessel HMS Challenger II.
Victor Vescovo is a businessman and amateur pilot who has also traversed the highest mountain peaks, including Mount Everest.