In an awe-inspiring account of exploration and boundary-pushing, Kitchen takes us through his remarkable journey from being an avid traveler and entrepreneur to becoming one of the few people to have ventured into both the far reaches of space and the deepest abysses of our planet. His space adventure in March 2022 aboard the Blue Origin shuttle mission took him 66 miles above Earth, where he marveled at the “blackness of the universe.” Just months later, he plunged seven miles below sea level to Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench—the deepest known point of Earth’s seabed. The journey to Challenger Deep was aboard the DSSV Pressure Drop, launching from Guam, and took him to a hitherto unexplored part of the eastern pool of the trench, where he observed a surreal underwater world, including unique life forms like amphipods and sea cucumbers, and incredible geological formations where the Pacific and Philippine tectonic plates collide.
Kitchen underscores that while the trips were fraught with dangers, from the uncertainty of space travel to the 16,000 psi pressure underwater, they were also a testament to human ingenuity and a thirst for discovery. While aboard the submersible, he encountered moments of tension like an error message and the failure of a switch designed to release weights for buoyancy, but ultimately everything went as planned. The overarching message is one of inspiration: Kitchen, who has visited all 193 UN-recognized countries, encourages us to “push through boundaries and keep our dreams alive,” emphasizing how much of our own planet remains unexplored. As a professor, he hopes his adventures can serve as a beacon for his students, teaching them that “anything is possible.”