Ellen Ochoa, the first Hispanic to travel to space and since 2012 is director of the Johnson Space Center in Houston, today entered with honors in the NASA Hall of Fame, created to pay tribute to the American astronauts.
Along with Ochoa, a Californian engineer of Mexican origin, today entered this “elite group”, as one of the speakers, Michael Foale, the only American astronaut – also has British nationality – who has served in the Station International Space Station (ISS) and in the Russian MIR.
The ceremony was held in the shadow of the Atlantis shuttle, where the two honorees agreed on a mission, and the other ships and historical artifacts of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) that are exhibited in the Complex of Visitors to the Kennedy Space Center in Titusville, Florida.
With Ochoa and Foale, 95 astronauts have been inducted into the Hall of Fame since its inauguration in 1990, including space pioneers Neil Armstrong, John Glenn, Buzz Aldrin, Joseph Allen and William Andersen.
Both received the medals that accredit them as members of the Hall of Fame and unveiled the exhibition elements that will represent them in this space designed to remember and honor the “heroes” of the conquest of space.
Ochoa, born in Los Angeles on May 10, 1958, although she considers La Mesa, also in California, as her city, made four trips to space since 1993.
It was presented today by its predecessor in the direction of the Johnson Space Center, Michael Coats, who defined it as an “extraordinary person” and one of “the best and brightest individuals that our nation can produce.”
Coats also pointed out that as an astronaut he was “strong, well informed and able to decide” in the “turbulent moments” of the space race that he had to live.
Ochoa, who among other degrees holds a doctorate in electrical engineering from Stanford University, dedicated her speech to thank the people who supported her on her “own trip.”
Like his partner Foale, Ochoa especially mentioned his mother, Rosana Ochoa, and highlighted the “camaraderie” with the other astronauts as one of the best things about space travel.
Ochoa is the ninth woman to enter the Hall of Fame and the only Hispanic. Eilleen Collins, Bonnie Dunbar, Susan J. Helms, Shannon Lucid, Sally K. Ride, Rhea Shedonn, Kathy Sullivan and Kathy Thornton came in before her.
Sheddon and Kathy Thornton attended along with other veteran astronauts today at the Ochoa and Foale introductory ceremony honoring John Glenn, the last man who stepped on the moon, who died last year.
Ochoa’s first 9-day, 6-hour space voyage was in 1993 when she was part of the STS-56 scientific expedition and operated as a robotic expert on the Remote Manipulator System (RMS), a mechanical arm used to send and rescue the Spartan satellite.
The crew, consisting of five astronauts, traveled on the space shuttle Discovery and their main objective was to collect data on the relationship between the sun’s energy and the atmosphere to study the effect of the sun’s rays on the ozone layer.
A year later, aboard the Atlantis shuttle, Ochoa took off from Cape Canaveral to travel more than 7 million kilometers and complete the Earth’s orbit 174 times, a trip that was also conducted to determine how the sun affects the weather on earth. And again he used the RMS to recover the CRISTA-SPAS satellite.
Already in 1999, on a Discovery mission, the Spanish astronaut traveled to the International Space Station and she was the flight engineer.
His last trip, in 2002 and aboard the Atlantis shuttle, also went to the ISS. The astronauts who participated in that mission, which lasted 10 days and 19 hours, were in charge of installing the S0 Truss segment.
For Ochoa, now the goal, he said in a recent interview with Efe, is “to advance the human presence in the Solar System.”
“We really want to get to Mars in the 2030s, it’s a great challenge. It’s a technological challenge, but it’s also a budget challenge,” Ochoa said.