Kathy Sullivan, the first U.S. woman to do an EVA, and Dave Leestma work on the orbital refueling experiment at the far end of the payload bay.An Earth scientist and PhD geologist/oceanographer, mission specialist Sullivan was a good match for the STS-41G mission, which carried an Earth-observation payload and deployed the Earth Radiation Budget Satellite. She was co-investigator for the Shuttle Imaging Radar (SIR-B) remote sensing experiment and actively involved in research use of the Large Format Camera and other instruments mounted in the payload bay. However, it was not these experiments that drew her outside for 3 ½ hours. She and crewmate David Leestma did a trial fluid transfer to demonstrate that it was feasible to refuel satellites in orbit, a key task for satellite servicing.
Sullivan was the first woman to wear the 225-pound Extravehicular Mobility Unit. Not only does it protect astronauts from the extreme conditions of space, it is in itself a mobile life support system with an oxygen supply, electrical power, water-cooling equipment, ventilating fan, and an in-suit drink bag.Sullivan wore the Shuttle-era spacesuit Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) to work in space. It was a ready-to-wear suit, not custom-made, with interchangeable arms, legs, and torso units in different sizes. These parts could be combined to fit anybody in the range from the 5th percentile female to 95th percentile male. She said she found it pretty comfortable to wear and work in while in zero gravity, although the fit did not quite match where her knees and elbows actually were, making it somewhat harder to move her limbs. The EVA gloves worn by Sullivan are in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s collection. Also in the collection is the Society of Women Geographers pennant that Sullivan took on this mission to honor her profession, as well as one of her flight suit name tags.
Sally Ride made her second flight on Sullivan’s first; the STS 41G crew was the first with two women.She flew twice more on the shuttle but did not go on other spacewalks. She was prepared for one on STS-31 in 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope deployment mission flown on Discovery, in case anything went amiss with the release of the telescope. When one of the solar arrays jammed, she and Bruce McCandless suited up and prepared the airlock to go outside and deploy the array manually. However, Mission Control resolved the problem via software, a good but probably disappointing solution for the two would-be rescuers who had trained for every foreseeable contingency. In 1992 on Atlantis, Sullivan was payload commander on STS-45, a nine-day “Mission to Planet Earth” called ATLAS-1 that focused on measuring atmospheric chemistry and dynamics.
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