Women’s History Month: Space Pioneer Ellen Ochoa

Ellen Ochoa, May 10, 1958

In 1993, Astronaut Ellen Ochoa became the first Hispanic woman to go into space.

Born in Los Angeles in 1958, she was the granddaughter of paternal grandparents who had immigrated to the United States from Mexico.   

Ellen grew up in southern California and attended San Diego State University, There, she graduated from Phi Beta Kappa with an undergraduate degree with a major in physics.  She continued her graduate education earning master’s and doctorate degrees in electrical engineering at Stanford.

After graduation, Ellen was employed at NASA where she led a team of scientists and engineers involved in working on optical guidance systems for aerospace missions, among other projects.  In 1991, she was selected by NASA to become an astronaut.  Two years later, she became the first Hispanic woman to travel into space when she was selected for a nine-day mission aboard the Discovery Space Shuttle.

Ellen retired from the space program and became the second female director and the first Hispanic director of the Johnson Space Center. She has received numerous awards and recognitions including selection for the United States Astronaut Hall of Fame in 2017.

Leave a Reply