Ellen Ochoa, former Director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, discusses her journey to becoming the first Hispanic woman in space and her outlook on the future of space exploration.
On being the first Hispanic female astronaut: "It’s a little intimidating because you do feel like you stand out a lot. And that everybody sort of knows who you are and kind of knows how you do, and you do have this sense of, if I don’t do well it somehow reflects on all women or all Hispanics…As I got further in my career, even though there were more firsts that I was doing, that actually lessened quite a bit. And I think it’s partly just because once I got into the astronaut office what people really cared about, what the other astronauts cared about, what the people on the ground cared about was can I do my job?"
On the global collaboration of future space programs: "When you think about building infrastructure around the moon or on the moon, and eventually on to Mars, we really do believe it’s going to be an international collaboration as well as using commercial companies… [The International Space Station] is all of ours, and we want to keep our astronauts and cosmonauts safe. We want to make it productive. We want to make sure that each of our countries sees the benefit that we’re getting from it. And so the only way we were going to be able to do that is to work together. And that’s what we’ve been able to do."