Kathryn D. Sullivan

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Kathryn Sullivan
Kathryn D. Sullivan.jpg
NASA Astronaut
Nationality American
Status Retired
Born (1951-10-03) October 3, 1951 (age 63)
Paterson, New Jersey
Other occupation
Rank Captain, United States Navy
Time in space
22 days 04 hours 49 minutes
Selection 1978 NASA Group
Total EVAs
Total EVA time
3 hours 29 minutes
Missions STS-41-G, STS-31, STS-45
Mission insignia
STS-41-G patch.pngSts31 flight insignia.pngSts-45-patch.png
A video of Kathryn Sullivan in 1981 talking about how she felt to be selected.

Kathryn Dwyer Sullivan (born October 3, 1951 in Paterson, New Jersey) is an American geologist and a former NASA astronaut. A crew member on three Space Shuttle missions, she is the first American woman to walk in space. She was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator on March 6, 2014.


Sullivan is a 1969 graduate of William Howard Taft High School in the Woodland Hills section of Los Angeles, California. She was awarded a bachelor of science degree in Earth Sciences from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 1973, as well as a Ph.D. in geology from Dalhousie University in 1978.[1]

Military career[edit]

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.

NASA career[edit]

Sullivan performed the first EVA by an American woman during Space Shuttle Challenger mission STS-41-G on October 11, 1984. She flew on three space shuttle missions and logged 532 hours in space.[1]

Civilian career[edit]

Kathryn D. Sullivan as Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator

After leaving NASA, Sullivan served as president and CEO of the COSI Columbus, an interactive science center in Columbus, Ohio and as Director for Ohio State University's Battelle Center for Mathematics and Science Education Policy as well as a volunteer science advisor to COSI. She was appointed to the National Science Board by President Bush in 2004.

In 2009, Sullivan was elected to a three-year term as the chair of the Section on General Interest in Science and Engineering for the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

In January 2011, the White House sent to the Senate the nomination of Sullivan by President Barack Obama to be an assistant secretary of commerce. Sullivan was first nominated in December 2010, but because the Senate didn't approve her nomination and a bevy of others forwarded late in December, the White House renewed the formal requests.

On May 4, 2011, Sullivan was confirmed by unanimous consent of the U.S. Senate and appointed by President Obama to serve as assistant secretary of commerce for environmental observation and prediction and deputy administrator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.[2]

Sullivan was appointed as Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Acting NOAA Administrator on February 28, 2013.[3]

Sullivan was confirmed by the Senate as the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator on March 6, 2014.[4]

Awards & Other Recognition[edit]

In 1991, Sullivan received the Haley Space Flight Award for "distinguished performance in the deployment of the Hubble Space Telescope on Mission STS-31 during April 1990" [5]

In 2004, Sullivan was inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame.

Also, in 2004, Sullivan received the Adler Planetarium Women in Space Science Award.