A brief history of Kathryn Sullivan, the 1st woman to spacewalk

By Willie Bodenstein


Kathryn Dwyer Sullivan (born 3 October 1951) is an American geologist and a former NASA astronaut. In 1988, Sullivan joined the U.S. Naval Reserve as an oceanography officer, retiring with the rank of Captain in 2006. She has served as chief scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Before NASA, Sullivan worked in Alaska as an oceanographer.

Sullivan performed the first extra-vehicular activity (EVA) by an American woman during Space Shuttle Challenger mission STS-41-G on 11 October 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 refuelled in orbit. During their eight-day mission, the crew deployed the Earth Radiation Budget Satellite, conducted scientific observations of the earth with the OSTA-3 pallet (including the SIR-B radar, FILE, and MAPS experiments) and large format camera (LFC), conducted a satellite refuelling demonstration using hydrazine fuel with the Orbital Refuelling System (ORS) and conducted numerous in-cabin experiments as well as activating eight "Getaway Special" canisters. STS-41G completed 132 orbits of the Earth in 197.5 hours, before landing at Kennedy Space Centre, Florida, on 13 October 1984.

Sullivan left NASA in 1993. She flew on three space shuttle missions and logged 532 hours in space.

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