Ellen Ochoa


First Hispanic Woman in Space and Former Director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center

Ellen Ochoa

Women In Leadership

Ellen Ochoa has been the Director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center since 2013, leading the human space flight enterprise for the nation. She became the first Hispanic woman to go to space when she served on a nine-day mission aboard the shuttle Discovery in 1993. She has flown in space four times, logging nearly 1,000 hours, leading onboard scientific activities, operating the robotic arm, and serving as flight engineer during the launch, rendezvous, and entry phases of the mission.

She has shared her experiences in more than 300 presentations to a variety of audiences. She is honored to have six schools named after her and several books written about her for the K-8 grades, and she has been profiled in textbooks and on websites geared toward encouraging females and minorities to pursue technical fields.

Ochoa is the recipient of many awards, including NASA’s highest award, the Distinguished Service Medal; the Presidential Distinguished Rank of the Senior Executive Service; and honorary doctorates from the University of Pennsylvania, Johns Hopkins University, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute. She is in the Astronaut Hall of Fame and the California Hall of Fame.

Prior to her astronaut and management career, Ochoa was a research engineer and holds three patents for optical systems. She earned a PhD and MS in Electrical Engineering from Stanford, and a BS in Physics from San Diego State University.

Ochoa serves on several boards, including the National Science Board, and as Chair of the Nomination Evaluation Committee for the National Medal of Technology and Innovation. She previously served on the Stanford University Board of Trustees and the nonprofit Manned Space Flight Education Foundation, Inc., which operates Space Center Houston.