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Dr. Ellen Ochoa, the First Latina in Space, Is Now the Johnson Space Center’s Second Female Director, Too

We Can Be Heroes

When it comes to writing about female astronauts, our coverage here at The Mary Sue tends to be somewhat Sunita Williams-centric. (She’s awesome, OK?) But here’s another lady astronaut you should know: Dr. Ellen Ochoa, who this month becomes the second female and first Hispanic director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

She was also the first Latina in space, if you need more impressing.

Oh, and she’s also a classical flutist. That instrument was the bane of my existence in the fourth grade, so anyone who can play it without passing out gets my respect, even without also being an awesome astronaut.

Says NBC Latino, Ochoa didn’t always plan to go to space:

It didn’t become a prospect in her life’s agenda until sometime in graduate school, when she says she first started noticing women in the field.

“When the first space shuttle took off in 1981, Sally Ride flew for the first time,” says, Ochoa who was busy getting a PhD to be a research engineer at the time. “Putting that all together with my interest in space is what led me to apply.”

Reason why it’s important to have visible female scientists #35687432.

Ochoa has been on four space missions and has served as the deputy director at the JSC for the last five years. As its director, she will be shepherding the JSC through a rather tough time, given their budget has been substantially cut. She’s stated her intent to “[make] sure we move exploration forward as best as we can,” in part by working on the Orion multipurpose crew vehicle, which “is capable of going to many destinations… further away and doing them more affordably.” Orion’s first uncrewed test flight—called Exploration Mission 1—is scheduled for 2017.

I want Ochoa and Williams to form a club where they get together and talk about being awesome lady astronauts. Mae Jemison should come, too.

(via: NBC Latino)

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