Ellen Ochoa, who grew up in La Mesa and attended San Diego State University, will be inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame in May, according to the organization. Ochoa, one of three astronauts to graduate from Grossmont High School in El Cajon, was the first Hispanic woman in space. She took part in four space shuttle missions, including one as payload commander.
She's currently the director of the Johnson Space Center in Houston. SDSU honored her as Distinguished Alumna of the Year in 1995.``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 said. ``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.''
Michael Foale, the first British astronaut to conduct a space walk and a veteran of six space shuttle missions, will be inducted along with Ochoa at the Hall of Fame on May 19 in Titusville, Florida.
More on Ella Ochoa's Achievements
Ochoa's career with NASA began with a big bang as she developed three patents in optical systems soon after joining the Ames Research Center. Since there were no female astronauts to look up to while growing up, she had never dreamed of becoming an astronaut -- but her mind-expanding time in graduate school changed all that. She first applied to become an astronaut in 1985, while continuing her quest for science and adventure by developing more patents in optics and earning a pilot license.