“I realized, really for the first time, that people who didn’t even know me were wishing for my success —  hoping to share in the pride of future accomplishments, but even more important, willing to provide encouragement in the face of disappointments. I hope that by sharing my experiences, others will be inspired to set high goals for themselves.”

- Ellen Ochoa is the first Hispanic director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center and the first Hispanic woman to go to space.

Check out the in-depth Q&A with Ellen below!

Keep reading

Badass Scientist of the Week: Dr. Ellen Ochoa

Ellen Ochoa (1958—) is an astronaut, engineer and musician best known as the world’s first Hispanic female astronaut. Born in Los Angeles, Ochoa completed her undergraduate degree in physics at San Diego State University in 1975, then went on to achieve her Masters and PhD at Stanford University in electrical engineering. She’s a pioneer of spacecraft technology—she researched optical systems for automated space exploration at the NASA Ames Research Center, and she has co-invented an optical inspection system, an optical object recognition method, and a method to remove noise from images. In 1990, she was selected by NASA as a mission specialist and flight engineer, and served on her first space flight in 1993: a nine-day mission on the shuttle Discovery, during which the crew conducted atmospheric and solar studies, and Ochoa operated a research satellite in the study of the sun. Ochoa went on to undertake four space flights in total, logging over 950 hours in space. Her assignments while in the Astronaut Office included flight software, computer hardware development, and robotics development, and her awards include NASA’s Exceptional Service Medal (1997), Outstanding Leadership Medal (1995) and Space Flight Medals (2002, 1999, 1994, 1993). Aside from being an astronaut, Ochoa is also a classical flutist and a private pilot, and she currently lives in Texas with her husband and two children, where she serves as Director of Flight Crew Operations at Johnson Space Center, Houston.

Ellen Ochoa (b. 1958) is an engineer and former astronaut who currently serves as the Director of the Johnson Space Center. During her nine-day mission aboard the shuttle Discovery in 1993 she became the first Hispanic woman in space.

She worked at the NASA Ames Research Center and became a pioneer in spacecraft technology, patenting an optical system which detected defects in a repeating pattern. She is a co-inventor on a further four patents. She has logged more than 1000 hours in space during four space flights.

Dr. Ellen Ochoa, the first Latina in space, is now NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC)’s first Latina director!

Born in California, and of Mexican descent, Ochoa is also a classical flutist and practices every morning before heading to work. She says space travel wasn’t always in her plans. It didn’t become a prospect in her life’s agenda until sometime in graduate school, when she says she first started noticing women in the field.

“When the first space shuttle took off in 1981, Sally Ride flew for the first time,” says, Ochoa who was busy getting a PhD to be a research engineer at the time. “Putting that all together with my interest in space is what led me to apply.”

She says the versatility and excitement offered caused her to gravitate towards a career in space.

“You could do research in lots of different areas,” says Ochoa who enjoyed learning about living and working in space, in addition to repairing spacecrafts. “The wide variety of tasks you could do with the space shuttle is something that really interested me.”



Currently serving as the director of the Johnson Space Center, Ellen Ochoa was the first Latina astronaut. Since her first mission in 1993 - when she ventured out on the shuttle Discovery for nine days to study the Earth’s ozone layer - she has logged nearly 1,000 hours in space.

Holding a degree from Stanford in electrical engineering, Ochoa is also the co-inventor on three patents for an optical inspection system, an optical object recognition method, and a method for noise removal in images.


It was recently announced that Harriet Tubman will be the first woman in over a century to appear on a U.S. banknote & it’s got us wanting more! We’ve put some of our favorite women in history on the currency. Which ladies would you want to see on your cash!?


Happy Mothers day! 

In a big number of countries today is mothers day,  so don’t forget to thank your mother for all she has done for you. 

In the top left Chiaki Mukai is supported by her mother during astronaut training. Top right shows Ellen Ochoa with her son on her arm after returning from space. shows. Anna Fisher (bottom left) was the first mother in space with her husband Bill Fisher and their daughter Kristen Ann.  In Bottom right is Paolo Nespoli with his mother, he lost her last year while he was in space.

 FYI: Korolyov, the Chief Designer, was of the opinion that female astronauts should not be mothers in order for them to concentrate on the space program. In China on the other hand, future female astronauts must have given birth naturally, according to china this will ensure that they are mentally and physically prepared for space.   

Mission Specialist Ellen Ochoa, wearing a Launch and Entry Suit (LES) and Launch and Entry Helmet (LEH), simulates an emergency egress procedure at JSC’s Mockup and Integration Laboratory (MAIL). Having exited the crew compartment trainer (CCT) a shuttle mockup, through an overhead aft flight deck window; Ochoa lowers herself to the ground using the sky-genie. Training instructor Kenneth D. Trujillo assumes the role of a crewmate assisting from a position on the ground. The sky-genie is carried on all Space Shuttle flights for emergency egress purposes.

Happy birthday to the first Latina in space – Ellen Ochoa! After becoming an astronaut in 1991, she participated in STS-56 ATLAS-2 Discovery mission and became the first Latina in space in 1993. Since then, she has made several more trips to space and has had four schools named after her on Earth. We salute Ellen Ochoa for taking your dreams above and beyond!