Ellen Ochoa is an American astronaut who was the world’s first Hispanic woman to journey to space. She was born in Los Angeles, California, on May 10, 1958, to Joseph and Rosanne Ochoa. She was born and raised in La Mesa, California, and graduated from Grossmont High School in El Cajon in 1975. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from San Diego University with a bachelor’s degree in 1980 and moved on to Stanford University to receive a master’s degree in 1991 and an electrical engineering doctorate in 1985. Her job took her to NASA’s Ames Research Center and then to space.
Dr. Ochoa applied to the NASA Training Program in 1985. Despite being rejected, she opted to pursue a pilot’s license. She was confident that she would enjoy flying and that it would help her improve her NASA résumé. She applied again in 1987, but was again rejected. Her third application, however, was accepted in 1990.
Ellen Ochoa had a patent for an optical system that could detect problems in repeated patterns.
An optical inspection system, a method for eliminating noise from images, and an optical recognition approach were all co-invented by Ellen Ochoa.
Ellen Ochoa oversaw a large staff of engineer scientists at NASA’s Ames Research Center that worked on building computing systems for aerospace missions.
NASA chose Ellen Ochoa to be an astronaut in 1990, and she became one in 1991.
Ellen was the crew representative for flight software, robotics, and computer hardware at the Astronaut Office. She was also the principal spacecraft communicator at Mission Control, the Deputy Chief of the Astronaut Office, and the Chief of the Astronaut Office’s assistant for the Space Station.
Ellen became the first Hispanic woman in space when she flew to space aboard the shuttle Discovery for a nine-day mission in 1993.
Ellen Ochoa is the mother of two children.