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Dr. Kathy Sullivan's Adventures:
From Outer Space to Ocean Depths
On October 11, 1984, 33-year-old Kathy Sullivan made one giant leap for womankind when she became the first American female to walk in space. But the astronaut's pioneering aspirations didn't start and end in the celestial expanse. Thirty-five years later, the intrepid explorer made history once more by traveling in the opposite direction. On June 7, 2020, Sullivan also became the first woman to visit the deepest known point on the ocean floor. Harboring a long-held fascination with oceanography, the former NASA geologist realized a lifelong goal when she traveled an astonishing 35,810 feet to the deepest part of the Mariana Trench. Joined by her colleague Victor Vescovo, Sullivan spent an hour and a half taking photographs from a submersible called Limiting Factor, the first-ever privately built and funded mini-submarine. Specifically designed to withstand the crushing eight-tons-per-square-inch pressure of the lowest point on the planet, the apparatus has provided scientists with an incredible platform for research, filmmaking and exploration. After a four-hour ascent back to the surface to dock with DSSV Pressure Drop mothership, Sullivan took part in yet another world first, initiating a call between the International Space Station and the Pressure Drop to converse with old teammates. "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 comparing notes with my colleagues on the ISS about our remarkable reusable inner-space outer-spacecraft," said Sullivan in a statement released following the trip.
A New Era for Commercial Flight: The Electric Age
In December 1903, the Wright Brothers and their powered aircraft launched the aviation age, a revolutionary epoch of transportation. Now, 117 years later, a new era has dawned thanks to the convergence of high-end technology and a growing industry-wide commitment to a greener future.
Heralding the electric age in flight, the world's largest all-electric commercial aircraft successfully completed its first test trip in May 2020. Designed by electric aviation company magniX and AeroTEC, a leading aerospace testing and engineering company, the all-electric Cessna Grand eCaravan 208B took flight at a test center in Moses Lake, Washington.
Able to carry nine passengers, the eCaravan is not the first electric plane to successfully take to the air. magniX also took this honor with the flight of a six-seater commercial aircraft back in December 2019. But it's still incredibly significant, as the iconic Caravan has been a workhorse of industry in commercial and goods transportation for decades. The arrival of its electric counterpart means a cheap and zero-emission way of operating middle-mile aircraft to and from smaller airports, opening up a whole new way to move people and packages.
According to the Air Transport Action Group, the global aviation industry produced approximately 2 percent of all human-induced CO2 emissions in 2019. That translates to the release of 915 million tons of carbon dioxide. But thanks to this breakthrough in sustainable engineering, the eCaravan will serve as a blueprint for future conversions of additional aircraft to magniX electric propulsion technology. This means existing planes across the world can be retrofitted with the system and, in turn, pave the way for a drastic and necessary reduction in the aviation industry's carbon footprint.
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