Ellen Ochoa, Ph.D.



Ellen Ochoa is an astronaut, the former director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, and vice chair of the National Science Board.

Ellen Ochoa, Ph.D.


Ellen Ochoa was the 11th director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, leading the human space flight enterprise for the nation. She became the first Hispanic woman to go to space when she served on a nine-day mission aboard the shuttle Discovery in 1993. She has flown in space four times, logging nearly 1,000 hours, leading onboard scientific activities, operating the robotic arm, and serving as flight engineer during the launch, rendezvous, and entry phases of the mission. She has shared her experiences in more than 300 presentations to a variety of audiences. She is honored to have six schools named after her, several books written about her for the K-8 grades, and has been profiled in textbooks and on websites geared toward encouraging females and minorities to pursue technical fields.

Dr. Ochoa is the recipient of many awards including NASA's highest award, the Distinguished Service Medal, the Presidential Distinguished Rank of the Senior Executive Service, and honorary doctorates from University of Pennsylvania, Johns Hopkins University and Worcester Polytechnic Institute. She is in the Astronaut Hall of Fame, the California Hall of Fame and the International Air & Space Hall of Fame.

Prior to her astronaut and management career, Dr. Ochoa was a research engineer and holds three patents for optical systems. She earned a Ph.D. and M.S. in electrical engineering from Stanford, and a B.S. in physics from San Diego State University. She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the National Academy of Inventors, and the Optical Society of America.

Dr. Ochoa provides executive guidance to a variety of organizations. She is the vice chair of the National Science Board, chairs the Nomination Evaluation Committee of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, and is on the boards of Service Corporation International and Mutual of America. Previously, she served on the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas board, the Stanford University Board of Trustees and the Manned Space Flight Education Foundation, Inc. She is a member of the National Association of Corporate Directors, the Latino Corporate Directors Association, and WomenCorporateDirectors.