continue to break down barriers, the latest one by Ellen Ochoa. The scientist
of Mexican descent will be inducted into the US Astronaut Hall of Fame for her
accomplishments in advancing space exploration.
The 58-year-old told CBS8:
"I’m honored to be recognized among generations of astronauts who were at the forefront of exploring our universe for the benefit of humankind."
In 1993, Ochoa became the first Latina to go into space as a mission specialist.
The California native joined NASA as a research engineer at Ames Research Center in 1988. Soon after, in 1990, Ochoa became part of the Johnson Space Center. After only two years of being an astronaut, she was chosen to head into space for nine days.
Since then, Ochoa has logged almost 1,000 hours in space with an additional four trips to space.
Ochoa is currently the director of the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. She is only the second woman and again, the first Latina to take over this role. She leads 13,000 employees.
When Ochoa was given this position four years ago, she said:
"Being an astronaut, and part of a team, is really rewarding, and now I have a different perspective. The end goal is still the same – carrying out exciting and challenging mission in space."
She hopes that young students will be inspired to have STEM careers.
“I hope to continue to inspire out nation’s youth to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math, so they too, may reach for the stars,” she said.
Ochoa will be inducted on May 19 in Titusville, Florida. She will be joined by her former crew member and first British astronaut to conduct a spacewalk, Michael Foale.
In a press release, Dan Brandenstein, the board chairman of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, praised both individuals:
"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. 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."
Ochoa has also been awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, NASA's highest honor, along with having five schools named after her.