ELLEN OCHOA Biography - Famous Scientists


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Ellen Ochoa is the first Hispanic American woman to fly in space. Read her           
student interview from Hispanic Heritage month 1999.                                 
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       
Ellen spent a number of years working on the development of the International         
Space Station. 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.