Ellen Ochoa
Astronaut, physicist, inventor
Born: Los Angeles, California

Encouraged by her mother to excel academically, Ellen Ochoa earned degrees in physics and electrical engineering, and achieved recognition as a three-time patent holder for optical devices. In 1993, she became the first Hispanic female astronaut.

“In our household there was a big emphasis on education. My mom expected us to work hard and do well. After we were born, she went to college for about 20 years, taking one class at a time, and graduating a couple of years after I did.”

Ochoa echoed her mother's drive to succeed, excelling in both academics and music. After declaring her college major in physics, she had summer jobs at Los Alamos National Lab. She pursued a doctorate at Stanford, where she developed the first of her three patents. In 1987, Ochoa learned she was among the 100 top candidates for the astronaut training program, but it wasn't until 1991 that she became a full-fledged NASA astronaut. Ochoa reached outer space on April 8, 1993, as a mission specialist aboard the orbiter Discovery. There, she raised an historic women's suffrage banner to honor those who had long fought for equal rights.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

Ellen Ochoa, astronaut, physicist, inventor. Photograph by Héctor Méndez-Caratini, taken in NASA Johnson Space Center , Houston , Texas

Ellen Ochoa, astronaut, physicist, inventor. Photograph by Héctor Méndez-Caratini, taken in NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas

“I know without their commitment 75 years ago, I would have never gotten the chance to be selected by NASA and go into space.”

Ochoa believes an important part of her job is to encourage the next generation to pursue math, science, and engineering. Through school visits and speeches, Ochoa continues the emphasis on education that launched her on her way.

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

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