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Celebrating Ellen Ochoa, First Latina In Space

Ellen Ochoa - HHM JSC

Here at LatinX, we would like to celebrate the 26th anniversary of Ellen Ochoa‘s milestone achievement of becoming the first Latina astronaut in space. The mission took place, April 8, 1993, and lasted 9 days. Ochoa, who is of Mexican descent, joined NASA in 1988 as a research engineer at Ames Research Center and moved to Johnson Space Center in 1990 when she was selected as an astronaut.

I was born in 1958, the same year NASA was established. Which I like to think of as not a coincidence. I was 11 when they landed on the moon, Apollo Eleven. And, of course, everybody in the whole world was watching that. But I can tell you, at that time, nobody ever asked a girl, “Is that something you want to grow up and do?”

Ellen Ochoa

To say that Ellen Ochoa’s life has been remarkable is an understatement. She was inducted into U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame in 2017, has several U.S. schools that bear her moniker, and championed women in the STEM her entire life. According to NASA, she is a decorated veteran with multiple medals of service, who over the course of her career has participated in four missions, and logged nearly 1000 hours in orbit.

Not only that, but she is the co-inventor of 3 patents, and was also the first Latina and second female director of the Johnson Space Center. She led the space program by serving in that capacity from 2013 to 2018 and was the recipient of the Distinguished Service Medal, the highest honor awarded in NASA. Pos guau.

We found this amazing video NASA produced for Hispanic Heritage Month back in 2010, highlighting just some of her credentials and we are beyond inspired.

Who are your Latinx heroes? Share in the comments below!

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