October 24, 2008
An astronaut’s experiences and challenges - in space and on Earth.
Dr. Ellen Ochoa is a former astronaut and the current Deputy Director of the Johnson Space Center in Texas. She was born and raised in California. She earned her undergraduate degree in physics from San Diego State University and her M.S. and doctorate in electrical engineering from Stanford University. While at Stanford, and later as a researcher at Sandia National Laboratories and NASA Ames Research Center, Dr. Ochoa investigated optical systems for performing information processing. She is a co-inventor on three patents for an optical inspection system, an optical object recognition method, and a method for noise removal in images. Dr. Ochoa became a NASA astronaut in 1991. A veteran of four spaceflights, Dr. Ochoa logged 978 hours in space between 1993 and 2002. She was a mission specialist on STS-56 (1993), the Payload Commander on STS-66 (1994), and a mission specialist and flight engineer on STS-96 (1999) and STS-110 (2002). A classical flutist and private pilot, Ochoa also enjoys volleyball and bicycling. Her numerous awards include a NASA Distinguished Service Medal, a Harvard Foundation Science Award, and a Hispanic Heritage Leadership Award. She also has two schools named after her.