Sunday, March 14, 2021

The World from Space! To the Stars: The First American Woman to Walk in Space by Carmella Van Fleet

Kathy Sullivan loved to explore. Whenever planes flew over, Kathy dreamed of a pocketful of airline tickets.

"I want to see the whole world," she said.

And she did! Kathy Sullivan saw the world, the whole planet from space, and not just from the tiny window of a spacecraft, but from outside the craft, walking in space!

When she was little, Kathy was adventurous. She studied her dad's airplane blueprints and cannonballed into the lake. Not stopping at just swimming, she learned to scuba dive, and dared to fly in a tiny open aircraft called a "Breezy, and just had to learn to pilot a plane." She did, but she was also in love with the ocean and space. But although she knew she loved science and adventure, she didn't like being asked what she wanted to be when she grew up. There were so many exciting places and things to do, she couldn't choose, but after majoring in earth science in college, she found herself fascinated with the earth and its place in space.

Like other female space pioneers like Sally Ride and Mae Jemison, Kathy was sure that she could do important work in space. Kathy became an astronaut and flew aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger with Sally Ride, eventually becoming the first American woman to "space walk," working outside the craft and seeing the "whole world" from space. Soon, serving aboard the Discovery, she helped launch the Hubble Telescope on its mission to see deep in outer space. And Kathy served as payload commander of the Atlantis and eventually became a member of the Space Hall of Fame.

Astronaut Sullivan says, "I worked hard to develop my skills, and I had the courage to set big goals.... goals that most people thought girls could not do."

Carmella Van Vleet's To the Stars!: The First American Woman to Walk in Space (Charlesbridge Books) is a great book about women in space to share with young students during Women's Month, one that will appeal to the most adventurous of them. Other books about American women and the race to space are Sally Ride: Life on a Mission (A Real-Life Story), and Mae Among the Stars, and those women mathematicians and scientists who helped get them into space, Dorothy Vaughn in Hidden Figures Young Readers' Edition, and Katherine Johnson in Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13. Ad astra, girls!

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