Kathy Sullivan, the first American woman to walk in space and a veteran of three shuttle missions, tells her experience as part of the team that launched, rescued, repaired, and maintained the Hubble Space Telescope in her new book “Handprints on Hubble.”

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Kathy Sullivan receives the Nevada Medal from the Desert Research Institute Foundation

The Nevada Medal

The Desert Research Institute Foundation is honoring Dr. Kathy Sullivan with the 31st Nevada Medal for "her remarkable accomplishments in her pursuit to explore and share her scientific discoveries with the world."

Sullivan is the first American woman to walk in space for NASA, she led the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as Administrator and in 2020 made an historic dive to our ocean’s deepest point.

Established in 1988 to acknowledge outstanding achievement in the fields of science and engineering, the Nevada Medal is the highest scientific honor in the state of Nevada.

The Desert Research Institute is the nonprofit research campus of the Nevada System of Higher Education and is a global leader in environmental research.

Based in Nevada with campuses in both Reno and Las Vegas, DRI has more than 450 scientists, faculty, and staff currently working on some of the most complex environmental issues. For more than 60 years, DRI has been leading data-driven research for important and timely insight into the environmental effects on human health, water quality, and availability, and climate change, and extreme weather.

Click here to learn more.

book cover

Handprints on Hubble

An Astronaut's Story of Invention

By Kathryn D. Sullivan

The Hubble Space Telescope has revolutionized our understanding of the universe. It has, among many other achievements, revealed thousands of galaxies in what seemed to be empty patches of sky; transformed our knowledge of black holes; found dwarf planets with moons orbiting other stars, and measured precisely how fast the universe is expanding. In Handprints on Hubble, retired astronaut Kathy Sullivan describes her work on the NASA team that made all of this possible. Sullivan recounts how she and other astronauts, engineers, and scientists launched, rescued, repaired, and maintained Hubble, the most productive observatory ever built.

Along the way, Sullivan chronicles her early life as a “Sputnik Baby,” her path to NASA through oceanography, and her initiation into the space program where she was one of the first six women to join NASA's astronaut corps. She describes in vivid detail what liftoff feels like inside a spacecraft and shows us the view from a spacewalk. Sullivan explains that “maintainability” was designed into Hubble, and she describes the work of inventing the tools and processes that made on-orbit maintenance possible. Because in-flight repair and upgrade was part of the plan, NASA was able to fix a serious defect in Hubble's mirrors — leaving literal and metaphorical “handprints on Hubble.”

Handprints on Hubble was published with the support of the MIT Press Fund for Diverse Voices.

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Praise for Handprints on Hubble

Handprints of Hubble named one of the best new biography books to read in 2020

As featured on CNN, Forbes, and Inc – BookAuthority has ranked Handprints on Hubble at #5 of best new biographies. Learn more.

Bill Nye
Bill Nye

CEO, The Planetary Society

Dr. Sullivan starts out headed for the bottom of the sea. Soon, she flies us 200 miles above the sky, using her head, heart, and hands to solve problem after problem— and help us take in views that are out of this world. She does it all with her veneer of astronaut cool, of course. What an adventure—no wonder she loves it.

Charles Bolden Jr

Astronaut; NASA Administrator

A wonderful tale of the most remarkable scientific instrument of our time, and the people who made it possible. This fascinating story of the Hubble Space Telescope’s visioning, development, and miraculous recovery, written by my longtime friend and two-time shuttle crewmate Dr. Kathy Sullivan, pays tribute to the unsung heroes of Hubble’s initial deployment and subsequent servicing.

Lynn Sheer
Lynn Sherr

Space correspondent, ABC News; author, Sally Ride: America’s First Woman in Space

So that’s how it all works! Kathy Sullivan’s insider knowledge and spacewalking savvy turn the nuts-and-bolts narrative of a giant piece of hardware into a daring space odyssey. From roaring rockets to tiny wrenches – as human ingenuity shaped NASA technology – it’s an intimate portrait of our magnificent Hubble eye-in-the-sky. I was, yes, riveted.

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review

[A]n accessible and fascinating memoir of [Sullivan’s] experiences as a pioneering scientist, highlighted by her work on the Hubble space telescope… Sullivan’s fine volume shines a light on the nuts-and-bolts tasks that make extraordinary endeavors possible.”

Kirkus Reviews

Throughout the narrative, [Sullivan’s] easy hand with details and infectious enthusiasm make for a winning combination. A smooth delivery of the nit and grit behind the success of the Hubble.”

Homer Hickam
Author of Rocket Boys and October Sky

Astronaut Kathy Sullivan was there at the beginning of Hubble's design. As much as anyone, her handprints are on this magnificent space observatory. A page-turner, Sullivan's memoir is for more than space buffs. It's for anyone who loves a good read about an adventurous life written by the person who lived it.


Kathy Sullivan becomes the first woman to reach the deepest spot in the ocean

Kathy Sullivan, the first American woman to walk in space, made history by becoming the first woman to visit the deepest spot in the oceans, the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench, seven miles below the surface of the Pacific Ocean Sunday, June 7, 2020.

Sullivan made her descent in the Limiting Factor, a two-person submersible designed and built by Triton Submarines, as part of Caladan Oceanic’s Ring of Fire Expedition led by investor and explorer Victor Vescovo, who piloted the submersible.

About 4,000 people have trekked to the top of Everest and 562 have been to outer space, but, until now, only seven people have traveled to the lowest point in the Mariana Trench. Sullivan makes the eighth person and the first woman to reach the bottom, which is 35,853 feet below sea level.

Sullivan marked the occasion by making a phone call from the submersible’s mothership, DSSV Pressure Drop, to speak with the NASA astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS).

“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 making the call between the ISS and DSSV Pressure Drop,” said Sullivan.

You can follow her on this adventure at her blog "Sea and Space."
In The News
Rolling Stone Magazine Logo
From the Ocean to Outer Space: The Adventures of Dr. Kathy Sullivan

The astronaut and oceanographer’s expeditions have taken her where few others have gone before — and have helped open up a universe of knowledge to scientists

In 1976, Kathy Sullivan was finishing up her Ph.D. in oceanography when an intriguing, if somewhat far-fetched, opportunity presented itself: the chance to become an astronaut. Her expertise was in the geology of the deep-sea floor, a few hundred miles in the exact opposite direction of where a space flight would take her, and joining NASA, she realized, could shut the door forever on her career in oceanography.

Click here to read the article.

Vogue Logo
Best of both worlds

Only one person in the entire world has walked in space and travelled to the deepest part of the ocean – and that person is Kathy Sullivan. As we recently discovered, the American icon and Omega ambassador has plenty of wisdom and perspective to show for it.

Kathy Sullian never really knew what she wanted to ‘be’ when she was growing up. Which is extraordinary (and frankly a little enviable) when you consider her long list of accomplishments. Part of NASA’s first intake of female astronauts in 1978, Sullivan became the first American woman to complete a space walk six years later. She was a crew member on three Space Shuttle missions (including the deployment of the first space telescope, Hubble) and held scientific advisory roles during both the George H.W. Bush and Obama administrations. To top that off, last year became the first woman to travel 11 kilometres down to Challenger Deep, the deepest known point in the Earth’s seabed, which sits in the western Pacific Ocean at the southern tip of the Mariana Trench. And that’s barely scratching the surface.

Click here to read the article.

Radio Canada Logo
The green week | Oceans: Turning the Tide

Interview with Radio Canada en Français

Kathy Sullivan was interviewed by Radio Canada for their show on the Earth's oceans called "Océans : Renverser la vapeur." Few of us have observed the Earth, like Kathy Sullivan. As an astronaut and an oceanographer ahe has a unique understanding of how closely linked we are all with the world's oceans.

Click here to see the show.

Recommended Reading and Videos
Fun Stuff
The LEGO Group joined forces with Kathy Sullivan to create a Space Shuttle Discovery set
The new LEGO NASA Space Shuttle Discovery, which was developed in collaboration with NASA, is a complex 2,354 piece build that pays homage to this pioneering moment in space history and marks the 40th anniversary of the first Space Shuttle flight on 12th of April 1981. The set, aimed at adults, features the Discovery orbiter with functional landing gear, payload bay doors, elevons and rudder; and the famous Hubble Space Telescope, which can either be folded and contained within the payload bay or expanded with a solar array and displayed separately. Both also come with a display plaque that features key data from the mission. Commenting on the set, Dr. Kathy Sullivan said, “I was thrilled to see the space shuttle in LEGO form, and was very impressed by the amount of intricate detail they have managed to recreate from the module where we used to sleep and eat through to what we called the “milk stalls” on the telescope. Looking at the model, it was great to reminisce about my experiences in space launching the telescope for the first time. Hubble is definitely the highlight of my career. This LEGO model is a great way for LEGO builders and space fans alike to get excited about space travel and learn more about the famous mission in a fun and engaging way.”

Click here to learn more.

Wake Up Like an Astronaut
Houston area writer/producer Mike Cahill, the man who has written many parodies of popular songs which were used as wakeup calls for shuttle astronauts, has sent Kathy a playlist.

Cahill said he got the idea for producing gag wakeup calls in 1987 after hearing earlier, less professional efforts.

"A lot of them were the best of efforts, they were well-intentioned, but the people who had done them simply were not familiar with the terminology, and I'd been a tour guide on a part-time basis at Johnson (Space Center)," he said.

"But I worked full time as a writer and producer at a radio station in Houston that also serviced some comedy networks around the country. I just came up with the idea that you know, someone really ought to do some wakeup calls."

Fun Fun Fun (On the Shutttle)


On Orbit Is The Place To Be


We Orbit Round

Denim Blues In ZeroG

Another Saturday Night


My World

Surfin EVA

We Don't Want to Go Home

Swine Flight

Bread And Butter

Proud To Be A Celebrity

We Got A Secret

Copyright © · All Rights Reserved · Kathryn D. Sullivan