Dr. Ellen Ochoa is a veteran of
three NASA Space Shuttle flights. She has logged over 719 hours in space,
traveling four million miles in one mission alone!
Before NASA selected Ellen to become an astronaut, Ellen proved herself
on Earth by getting a doctorate degree in electrical engineering and
co-inventing three patents for optical engineering systems.
Born in southern California in 1958, Ellen was interested in space exploration
as a girl. NASA hired its first women astronauts when she was studying
physics in college in the 1970’s. Ellen saw the astronaut program as
a way of combining her interest in research and engineering with space
exploration. She became an astronaut in 1991.
In April, 1993, Ellen became the first Hispanic-American woman in space.
As a mission specialist aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery, mission
STS-56, she deployed and captured a research satellite used for the
study of the sun. During the nine-day mission, she also took part in
studies of Earth’s atmosphere and the effect of the sun on Earth’s climate
and environment. In November 1994, Ellen was also payload commander
aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis
for mission STS-66.
Ellen spent a number of years working on the development of the International
. In May and June 1999, Ellen flew aboard the Discovery,
mission STS-96, which became the first Space Shuttle to actually dock
with the Space Station. On board the Space Shuttle were supplies to
be used by the first crews living and working on the Space Station.
Working 200 miles above the Earth, Ellen operated a robot arm that helped
transfer four tons of clothing, computers, and medical equipment from
one ship to the other.
Ellen plays the flute, flies planes, and enjoys volleyball and bicycling.
She and her husband have one son.