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. "I loved the expeditionary part of oceanography best of all," she says, "being out at sea, adapting to what odd circumstances came your way, bad weather or broken equipment. I adored that." But on a visit home during Christmas break, her brother told her that NASA was recruiting astronauts for its new space-shuttle program. It seemed at first to have nothing to do with the path she was on, but once she read up on it, she realized NASA was looking for people to do in space what she loved doing at sea — planning and executing scientific expeditions. She applied and beat out more than 8,700 other applicants, becoming one of the first six women accepted to NASA's astronaut corps. Related Angel Olsen: No One Sings Quite Like Candi Staton… Read full this story
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