Astronaut Scholarship Foundation

Created By The Mercury 7 Astronauts

Ellen Ochoa


Selected by NASA in 1990, Ellen Ochoa became a United States astronaut in 1991. She served as a mission specialist on her four space shuttle flights and as payload commander on her final mission.  Flying aboard STS-56, Dr. Ochoa became the first Hispanic woman to go to space. During this flight, Dr. Ochoa applied her extensive robotics training when she operated the Remote Manipulator System (RMS) to deploy and capture the Spartan satellite. She again used the RMS on her next mission, STS-66, to retrieve the CRISTA-SPAS satellite at the end of its 8-day flight. While docked at the International Space Station (ISS) on STS-96, Dr. Ochoa operated the RMS for a third time on an 8-hour spacewalk. Her technical skills came to great use aboard the ISS during STS-110 when the station’s robotic arm was used to maneuver spacewalkers around the station for the first time.  She also served as flight engineer for STS-96 and 110.

Dr. Ellen Ochoa currently serves as the 11th Director of the Johnson Space Center. She is the first Hispanic director and second female director of the space center.  Dr. Ochoa is also a member of the National Science Board and chairs the Nomination Evaluation Committee for the National Medal of Technology and Innovation.

Ellen Ochoa received a Bachelor of Science in physics from San Diego State University. She furthered her education at Stanford University where she received a Master of Science and doctorate degree in electrical engineering. She is a co-inventor on three patents and author of numerous technical papers in the area of optical information processing. Dr. Ochoa has received numerous awards including NASA’s highest award, the Distinguished Service Medal. She is honored to have five schools named for her.