With more than 950 hours logged in space, Ellen Ochoa is known for being the first Hispanic female astronaut in 1991. She holds a master of science and a doctorate degree from Stanford University and worked as a mission specialist and flight engineer on her 4 space flights. Today she lives in Texas with her family.
1. Propelled to Succeed
Ochoa says that some of her teachers didn’t believe in her when she was growing up. Even though they knew she was talented, they also understood that being in science as a woman was difficult and that it was unlikely she would ever go far. This propelled Ochoa to work hard to accomplish her goals and her efforts have now laid the ground work for girls of any age to pursue any dream they want.
2. Space Wasn’t a Race
Even though NASA landed astronauts on the moon when she was 11, Ochoa wasn’t inspired by this. She wanted to become a musician throughout most of her childhood. It wasn’t until Sally Ride became the first woman in space that Ochoa thought about turning to NASA as a career. She was in graduate school at the time. After earning her PhD, she applied to NASA.
3. Not Accepted
NASA actually rejected Ochoa’s initial application. This caused her to look at a different field for her career for the next 5 years until she would apply for a second time. Her second application was accepted and in 1993 she would reach orbit on Discovery. She would continue flying missions into space until 2002. She once even wished one of her children a happy birthday over a video chat call from outer space.
4. A Prolific Inventor
Ochoa might be remembered as an astronaut, but she also is a very prolific inventor with an emphasis in robotics. She has invented different optical recognition systems, robotic hardware, and computer hardware. Her inventions have helped scientists with NASA be able to refine images that are captured of space.
What is the key to success? If you ask Ochoa, it is a desire to never stop learning. Sometimes this requires hard work and sacrifice, along with a little teamwork, but the accomplishment of a mission is always a great reward.