The first Hispanic woman to travel in space and since 2012 the director of the Johnson Space Center in Houston, was inducted Friday with honors into the US Astronaut Hall of Fame, created to pay tribute to US explorers of outer space.
Ellen Ochoa, a California engineer of Mexican descent, joined this elite group Friday along with Michael Foale, the only US astronaut (he also has UK nationality) to serve on both the International Space Station (ISS) and the Russian Mir space station.
The ceremony took place beside the Atlantis space shuttle, in which the two honored astronauts once shared a mission, and near other spaceships and historic items the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has on show at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Titusville, Florida.
The induction of Ochoa and Foale brings to 95 the number of astronauts honored in the Astronaut Hall of Fame since its inauguration in 1990, including space race pioneers Neil Armstrong, John Glenn, Buzz Aldrin, Joseph Allen and William Andersen.
Ochoa and Foale received medals identifying them as honorees in the Hall of Fame, and unveiled items that will represent them in this institution conceived to memorialize heroes for their feats outer space.
Ochoa, born in Los Angeles on May 10, 1958, made four space journeys beginning in 1993.
She was introduced Friday by her predecessor as director of the Johnson Space Center, Michael Coats, who defined her as strong, well informed and able to make the right decisions in some troubled moments that arose in space.
Ochoa, who among other titles has a doctorate in electrical engineering from Stanford University, dedicated her speech to those who have supported her through her own life's voyage.
Like her colleague Foale, Ochoa particularly mentioned how her mother Rosana Ochoa helped her, and called the camaraderie with other astronauts as one of the best experiences on those space voyages.
Ochoa is the ninth woman to enter the Hall of Fame and the only Latina. Eilleen Collins, Bonnie Dunbar, Susan J. Helms, Shannon Lucid, Sally K. Ride, Rhea Seddon, Kathy Sullivan and Kathy Thornton are the others.
For Ochoa, the goal now, as she told EFE in a recent interview, is "to advance space exploration of the solar system."
"We really want to get to Mars in the 2030s. It's a great challenge. It's a technological challenge, but also a budget challenge," Ochoa said."