The First Latina In Space Wants To Use Her Experience To Produce More STEM Graduates

The first Latina to ever travel to space is being honored and joining some of the greatest people in astronautics history. Ellen Ochoa broke the barrier of Latinas in space in 1993, just two years after becoming an astronaut. Since becoming an astronaut, Ochoa has logged 978 hours outside of Earth during four different missions to space and is now the Director of the Johnson Space Center.

Ellen Ochoa, the first Latina in space, will soon be part of the United States Astronaut Hall of Fame.

NASA Johnson / Flickr

According to a news release by The Kennedy Space Center, Ochoa holds the distinction of being the first Latina in space after boarding a STS-56 in 1993 as a mission specialist.

Ochoa wants to use her platform and experience to encourage young people to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

NASA Johnson / Flickr

“I’m honored to be recognized among generations of astronauts who were at the forefront of exploring our universe for the benefit of humankind,” Ochoa told CBS8. “I hope to continue to inspire our nation’s youth to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math so they, too, may reach for the stars.”

According to a news release, Ochoa was chosen along former crew mate Michael Foale because of her extraordinary work to advance space exploration.

NASA Johnson / Flickr

“The courage, dedication and passionate spirit exhibited by both Dr.’s Foale and Ochoa is indicative of the extraordinary individuals who have been recognized in this way,” Dan Brandenstein, the board chairman of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, said in a press release. “NASA’s mission is always expanding with a goal to learn more and go further. Our two new U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame inductees have been pivotal in keeping that mission on course.”

Jerry Brown, the governor of California, took a moment to recognize the honorable accomplishment by the California native.

NASA Johnson / Flickr

“These talented individuals with their unique set of accomplishments show the best of California,” Gov. Jerry Brown said, according to Times of San Diego. “Their creativity and perseverance are a real inspiration.”

Ochoa calls La Mesa home and is one of three astronauts who graduated from Grossmount High School in El Cajon, Calif.

Congratulations, Ellen!

NASA Johnson / Flickr

READ: NASA Just Can’t Get Enough Of This Mexican Scientist

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