Born in California, Dr. Ellen Ochoa earned a BS in physics from San Diego State University and a master’s and doctorate in electrical engineering from Stanford University. She began her career as a research engineer at Sandia National Laboratories before joining NASA.
Ochoa joined NASA in 1986 as a research engineer at Ames Research Center and was selected as an astronaut in 1990.
In 1993, Ochoa became the first Hispanic woman to travel to space and served as a mission specialist aboard the space shuttle Discovery for STS-56.
Ochoa became the second female Johnson Space Center Director on January 1, 2013 and continued in that position until her retirement from NASA in 2018.
Dr. Ellen Ochoa, a veteran astronaut, was the 11th director of the Johnson Space Center. She was JSC's first Hispanic and second female director. Previous management roles included Deputy Center Director and Director of Flight Crew Operations, and she served as a mission specialist on four space shuttle flights.
Director of the NASA Johnson Space Center Ellen Ochoa talks as Tom Costello from NBC News moderates a panel discussion titled “Sally Ride: How Her Historic Space Mission Opened Doors for Women in Science” at the National Air and Space Museum on May 17, 2013 in Washington.
Missions Flown by Ellen Ochoa
The primary payload of STS-56 was ATLAS-2, designed to collect data on the relationship between the Sun's energy output and Earth's middle atmosphere and how these factors affect the ozone layer.
Discovery made the first space shuttle docking with the International Space Station. The astronauts spent a total of 79 hours, 30 minutes inside the station before closing the final hatch on the orbiting outpost.
Installation of the S0 truss was the primary objective for the STS-110 crew. Mission Specialist Ellen Ochoa lifted it out of Atlantis' payload bay with the station's robotic arm and maneuvered it onto a clamp at the top of the Destiny Lab.