Ochoa joined NASA in 1988 as a research engineer at Ames Research Center and then transferred to Johnson Space Center when she was chosen as an astronaut in 1990. When she served on the nine-day STS-56 mission aboard the space shuttle Discovery in 1993, she became the first Hispanic woman in orbit.
Latina astronauts have been few and far between, but Ochoa has never let this stop her from doing what many thought would be impossible: compete as an equal with men for a spot on a spaceflight. She is also one of only three women who have flown in space twice. The other two are Rosalind "Rosie" Adams and Sandra "Dottie" Lee.
Ochoa was born in Culiacán, Sinaloa, Mexico, on March 24, 1955. She grew up in Los Angeles and went to high school there too. Her family moved to Mexico when she was a teenager so that her father could take a teaching position at his alma mater, UCLA. They returned to California several years later, when Ochoa began studying engineering at Stanford University. She graduated in 1977 with a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering and started working at Ames Research Center the same year.
In 1984, Ochoa completed her master's degree in mechanical engineering at Stanford and joined NASA that same year as a technical consultant.
Ochoa, Ellen On October 5, 1958, in Los Angeles, California. Ellen Ochoa was the first female Hispanic-American astronaut. She took part in four space shuttle flights. Three of them were devoted to scientific research, and one was a flight test for a new type of lifeboat for astronauts.
The space agency that recruited and trained Ochoa was the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). NASA was created on October 1, 1958 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in order to lead America's efforts in space travel and other areas related to aeronautics. The agency is headquartered in Washington, D.C.
Before joining NASA, Ochoa earned a bachelor's degree in biology from Stanford University and a master's degree in plant pathology from the University of California, Berkeley. She also completed coursework at the University of Paris and the University of Geneva for candidates seeking professional certification as a space scientist.
During her time at NASA, Ochoa was promoted to the position of technical assistant where she worked on various projects including development of equipment used by astronauts during spacewalks. In addition, she prepared samples for analysis by scientists back on Earth.
Ochoa recently spoke with Know Your Value about NASA's historic all-female spacewalk, what's preventing women from entering STEM fields, and what she's working on now that she's retired. Near 1993, NASA Astronaut Ellen Ochoa was training at Vance Air Force Base in Houston. She felt compelled to move out into space because there were no other Latinas in science fiction movies at the time.
Before Ochoa, there was astronaut Anna Lee Fisher (1936-2013). She was the first woman in space, as well as one of only three people to have walked on the surfaces of both Earth and Moon. Born in San Francisco, California, Fisher grew up in Los Angeles and began her career with the U.S. Navy before joining NASA. She died in New York City at the age of 80.
Other notable Latinas who has gone to space include Maria Eugenia Guevara-Rosales, Jacqueline Kizana Kamwendo, Ingrid Newkirk, and Sandra Magnus.
Women make up 46% of the US population but only 8% of astronauts.
There are several factors that may be preventing women from going into science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. Some studies show that women are not attracted to these types of jobs because they feel that they do not have enough power over their environment or others using their skills.
Becoming the first Hispanic woman in space is one thing; being the first woman in space is quite another. Ellen Ochoa, a Mexican American with master's and doctoral degrees from Stanford University, worked as a NASA researcher before becoming the first Hispanic woman in space in 1993, conducting a nine-day trip aboard the space shuttle Discovery. She traveled 35 million miles (56 million km) at more than 7,000 mph (11,000 kph) in the International Space Station.
Ochoa was born on January 4, 1948, in San Antonio, Texas. She received her bachelor's degree in biology from Santa Clara University in 1976 and her master's and doctoral degrees in physiology from Stanford in 1978 and 1981, respectively. She began working for NASA in 1979 doing research in cardiovascular physiology and has since been involved in hundreds of publications in such journals as Science, Nature and The New England Journal of Medicine.
During her time in space, Ochoa conducted experiments on bone loss due to weightlessness, heart function during space travel, and sleep deprivation. Her findings have been used by doctors to help patients after surgery or other treatments where losing blood is likely.
After returning to Earth in October 1993, Ochoa continued to work for NASA until 2000 when she became a professor of medicine at Stanford University. She is now also an international authority on stress management and works with astronauts to prepare them for missions.