National Space Grant Distinguished Service Award

Ellen Ochoa

Dr. Ellen Ochoa | 2015

The NASA Space Grant community is pleased to announce that Dr. Ellen Ochoa has been selected as the recipient of the 2015 National Space Grant Distinguished Service Award. She will accept the award in person on the evening of Friday, February 27, 2015, at the Westin Crystal City Hotel in Arlington, VA, where a reception and dinner will be held in her honor.

Ochoa became the first Hispanic woman in the world to go to space when she served on a nine-day mission aboard the shuttle Discovery in 1993. The astronauts were studying the Earth's ozone layer. In her honor, Pasco School District # 1 in Pasco, Washington, Ellen Ochoa Elementary School in Cudahy, CA had named their newest schools after her, and in 2014 Green Dot Public Schools will open Ánimo Ellen Ochoa Charter Middle School in East Los Angeles, CA.

Ochoa was selected by NASA in January 1990 and became an astronaut in July 1991. Her technical assignments in the Astronaut Office includes serving as the crew representative for flight software, computer hardware and robotics, Assistant for Space Station to the Chief of the Astronaut Office, lead spacecraft communicator (CAPCOM) in Mission Control, and as acting as Deputy Chief of the Astronaut Office. A veteran of four space flights, Ochoa has logged nearly 1,000 hours in space. She was a mission specialist on STS-56 (1993), was payload commander on STS-66, and was mission specialist and flight engineer on STS-96 and STS-110 (2002). Ochoa was in Mission Control during the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster and was one of the first personnel informed of television coverage showing Columbia's disintegration. Since 2007, she served as Deputy Director of the Johnson Space Center, helping to manage and direct the Astronaut Office and Aircraft Operations, and is retired from spacecraft operations. On January 1, 2013, Ochoa made history again by becoming the first Hispanic and second female director of NASA's Johnson Space Center.

Ochoa was born in Los Angeles, California, but considers La Mesa, California her hometown. She always had a love for science, which was also her favorite subject in school. She graduated from Grossmont High School in El Cajon in 1975. Ochoa received a bachelor of science degree in physics from San Diego State University in 1980 and a master of science degree and doctorate in electrical engineering from Stanford University in 1981 and 1985, respectively. She has three brothers and one sister. She is married to Coe Fulmer Miles, with whom she has two children.