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The first Latina astronaut in space is coming to Kansas City to share her experience

Ochoa was selected by NASA in 1990 to participate in its astronaut program, and she became the first Hispanic female astronaut when she completed her training in 1991
Courtesy of Dr. Ellen Ochoa
Courtesy of Dr. Ellen Ochoa
Ochoa was selected by NASA in 1990 to participate in its astronaut program, and she became the first Hispanic female astronaut when she completed her training in 1991.

After joining the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in 1990, Dr. Ellen Ochoa has flown in space four times and logged nearly 1,000 hours in orbit. Ochoa is visiting Kansas City in April for an event at the Linda Hall Library.

Astronaut, inventor and author Dr. Ellen Ochoa has experienced many firsts in her career.

Ochoa became the first Hispanic woman to travel into space during the first nine-day space shuttle mission on the Discovery in April 1993.

But when she first applied to become an astronaut in 1985, she was denied. It wasn't until 1990 after she reapplied that she would finally get accepted.

"I was just very excited about joining the astronaut corps for a couple of reasons, obviously, the experience of getting to travel in space," Ochoa said. "But for me, it was about becoming part of a team, a team that really works together to accomplish difficult things that bring benefits to people."

After retiring as an astronaut in 2007, Ochoa continued her work when she became the first Hispanic to serve as director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center. As director, she worked on the Orion, which is scheduled to travel farther than any other crewed spacecraft. It’ll allow exploration of destinations such as Mars.

In NASA space flight history, there have been only 12 Hispanic astronauts, including two Latinas. And Ochoa has been a role model for women as well.

"Growing up, there weren't any women astronauts at that time," Ochoa said. "I didn't know any women scientists or engineers."

  • Dr. Ellen Ochoa, American engineer, former astronaut and former director of the Johnson Space Center

Event Details: Breaking Barriers: An Evening with Astronaut Ellen Ochoa, 6:30 p.m., Thursday, April 6 at the Linda Hall Library in Kansas City, Missouri. Register here.

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