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Breaking barriers: Kathryn Sullivan

Portraits of Jerrie Mock and Kathryn Sullivan - The WASPs

Part III: Kathryn Sullivan

Kathryn Sullivan is an American oceanographer, astronaut, and explorer who made history in 1984 when she became the first American woman to walk in space. Born in Paterson, New Jersey in 1951, Sullivan developed a love of science and exploration at a young age and pursued her passion throughout her career.

Sullivan joined NASA in 1978 as part of the first group of female astronauts and made her first spaceflight aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1984. During the mission, Sullivan and her fellow crew members conducted a number of scientific experiments and also made history by performing the first spacewalk by an American woman. Sullivan went on to make one more spaceflight in 1990, logging a total of 532 hours in space.

After leaving NASA, Sullivan continued to pursue her passion for oceanography, serving as the chief scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration from 1993 to 1996. Here in Columbus, she was the President and CEO of COSI from 1996-2006, and Director for Ohio State University’s Battelle Center for Mathematics and Science Education Policy from 2006-2011. 

Sullivan’s achievements have inspired countless people around the world to pursue their dreams of exploration and discovery, and her legacy continues to inspire future generations of scientists and explorers. 

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