First American woman to walk in space has strong family links to Beara peninsula

August 2nd, 2020 7:10 AM

By Brian Moore

Kathy Sullivan has also journeyed to the deepest part of the ocean.

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THERE is only one person on Earth who can describe, first hand, what it’s like to walk in space and then dive to the deepest point of the ocean.

And that incredible woman is 68-year-old, astronaut/oceanographer Kathy Sullivan, who has family connections on the Beara peninsula.

Kathy first made history back in on October 11th 1984, when she became the first American woman to walk in space.

She went on to take part in two more space missions, including the 1990 launch of the Hubble Space Telescope. Indeed Kathy, has logged 532 hours in space in total and was inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame in 2004.

And, of course, with a name like Sullivan, she has family connections here.

Her father’s family are still based in Lauragh in the parish of Tuosist on the Beara peninsula.

For Kathy, who is a former US navy oceanographer and has a PhD in Geology, the expedition to the ocean floor was a natural step.

The two missions, total opposites in so many ways, come from, as Kathy said, ‘one simple desire – to understand the world around me as much as possible.’

‘As a hybrid oceanographer and astronaut this was an extraordinary day, a once-in-a-lifetime day,’ Kathy said when she returned to the surface after her journey to the underwater moonscape of the Challenger Deep. The Challenger Deep, part of the Mariana Trench, is the deepest known part of the earth’s seabed. It is almost seven miles (11km) below the ocean’s surface and 200 miles southwest of Guam in the Pacific Ocean.

Kathy will take part in an exclusive Irish interview with Pat Kenny where she will share her remarkable history-making story, with unique insights into her exploration – both up in space and deep beneath waves.

She will recall her incredible dual experiences of walking in space, and charting oceans.  It’s part of the Marine Institute’s Oceans of Learning series, which aims to remind us all of the major role the ocean has on our everyday lives and to inspire a new generation of ocean champions.

You can tune into the Kathy Sullivan in conversation livestream on any of the Marine Institute’s social media channels on Thursday, July 23rd at 2pm or see MarineInstituteIRL on YouTube.

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