Ellen Ochoa

Ellen Ochoa, Ph.DEllen Ochoa, Ph.D
Ellen Ochoa, Ph.D
NASA Astronaut
Born: May 10, 1958
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California

Dr. Ellen Ochoa is the first Latina Astronaut to go to space and is also an inventor and electrical engineer. She graduated from Grossmont High School, La Mesa, California, in 1975, then later in 1980 received a bachelor of science degree in physics from San Diego State University. She eventually went on to earn her master of science degree and doctorate in electrical engineering from Stanford University in 1981 and 1985.

Ochoa The Inventor

As a doctoral student 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. As Chief of the Intelligent Systems Technology Branch at Ames, she supervised 35 engineers and scientists in the research and development of computational systems for aerospace missions. Dr. Ochoa has presented numerous papers at technical conferences and in scientific journals.

Ochoa The Astronaut

Selected by NASA in January 1990, Dr. Ochoa became an astronaut in July 1991. Her technical assignments to date include flight software verification, crew representative for flight software and computer hardware development, crew representative for robotics development, testing, and training, Assistant for Space Station to the Chief of the Astronaut Office, directing crew involvement in the development and operation of the Station, and spacecraft communicator (CAPCOM) in Mission Control. A veteran of two space flights, Dr. Ochoa has logged over 484 hours in space. Dr. Ochoa is assigned to the crew of STS-96, a ten day logistics and resupply mission for the International Space Station scheduled for May 1999. In April 1993, Dr. Ochoa flew as a Mission Specialist on STS-56, carrying ATLAS-2. During this nine day mission the crew of Discovery conducted atmospheric and solar studies to better understand the effect of solar activity on the Earth's climate and environment. Dr. Ochoa used the Remote Manipulator System (RMS) to deploy and capture the Spartan satellite, which studied the solar corona. Dr. Ochoa was the Payload Commander on the STS-66 Atmospheric Laboratory for Applications and Science-3 mission (November 3-14, 1994). ATLAS-3 continues the series of Spacelab flights to study the energy of the Sun during an eleven year solar cycle and to learn how changes in the sun's irradiance affect the Earth's climate and environment. Dr. Ochoa used the RMS to retrieve the CRISTA-SPAS atmospheric research satellite at the end of its eight day free flight.

Awards and Honors

Dr. Ochoa’s NASA awards include the Exceptional Service Medal (1997), Outstanding Leadership Medal (1995), Space Flight Medals (1994, 1993), and two Space Act Tech Brief Awards (1992). She is also the recipient of numerous other awards, including the Women in Aerospace Outstanding Achievement Award, The Hispanic Engineer Albert Baez Award for Outstanding Technical Contribution to Humanity, the Hispanic Heritage Leadership Award, and San Diego State University Alumna of the Year.

At Home

Although Dr. Ochoa was born in Los Angeles, California, she considers La Mesa, California to be her hometown. Dr. Ochoa is married to Coe Fulmer Miles of Molalla, Oregon and they have one son. In her spare time she is a classical flutist and private pilot, and also enjoys volleyball and bicycling.

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