NASA Astronaut Ellen Ochoa, First Latina in Space, To Speak Virtually at Old Dominion University Tuesday

Ellen Ochoa, the first Hispanic woman to travel into space, and the first Hispanic and second female director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, will give a virtual presentation at Old Dominion University at 3 p.m. EDT on Dec. 1. The event is sponsored by ODU Presents and the Remote Experience for Young Engineers and Scientists (REYES).


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The webinar is free and open to the public, but registration is requested to receive a Zoom link.

“We are thrilled to have internationally recognized astronaut Ellen Ochoa share her expertise with us,” said Giovanna Genard, assistant vice president for strategic communication and marketing and REYES co-chair. “Thanks to innovative leaders like Ochoa who continue breaking the glass ceiling, STEM fields are no longer out of reach for women and underrepresented populations. Gaining insight into the STEM career that launched this trailblazing leader to space is sure to inspire future generations of scientists, inventors, engineers and high-tech entrepreneurs to set lofty goals and aim for the stars.”

Ochoa’s first space flight – she has logged nearly 1,000 hours in space – was a nine-day mission aboard the space shuttle Discovery in 1993.

She was also a payload commander on the Atlantis (1994), and mission specialist and flight engineer on both the Discovery (1999) and the Atlantis (2002). The 1999 Discovery mission was also the first docking to the International Space Station.

Ochoa was director of Johnson Space Center from 2013 until her retirement in May 2018. She was previously the deputy director.

In her early career, Ochoa worked as a research engineer at Sandia National Laboratories and NASA Ames Research Center, where she investigated optical systems for performing information processing. She is a co-inventor on three patents and author of several technical papers.

Ochoa is also classical flutist. During the 1993 Discovery mission, she played the flute in space.

Six U.S. schools have been named after her. She serves on several boards and is currently chair of the National Science Board.

Ochoa has been recognized with NASA’s Distinguished Service Medal, the Women in Aerospace Outstanding Achievement Award, the Hispanic Engineer Albert Baez Award for Outstanding Technical Contribution to Society and the Hispanic Heritage Leadership Award. She has also been inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame and the International Air & Space Hall of Fame.

Ochoa holds a Ph.D. and master’s in electrical engineering from Stanford University and a bachelor’s in physics from San Diego State University.