This Hispanic Heritage Month, we are going on a journey through the decades to celebrate the significant contributions Hispanic astronauts have made to the space program by highlighting three of these trailblazers.
Franklin Chang Diaz
Dr. Chang Díaz became the first Hispanic astronaut when NASA selected him in 1980. He is a veteran of seven space flights: STS-61C in 1986, STS-34 in 1989, STS-46 in 1992, STS-60 in 1994, STS-75 in 1996, STS-91 in 1998, and STS-111 in 2002. He logged more than 1,500 hours in space, including 19 hours during spacewalks. He received a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Connecticut in 1973 and a doctorate in applied plasma physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1977.
Dr. Ochoa was the first female Hispanic astronaut to fly in space. NASA selected Ochoa as an astronaut in 1990. She spent nearly 1,000 hours in space during four Shuttle missions: STS-56 in
1993, STS-66 in 1994, STS-96 in 1999, and STS-110 in 2002. She then went on to serve as the 11th director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC). She was JSC’s first Hispanic director, and
its second female director. Ochoa received a bachelor’s degree in physics from San Diego State University in 1980, followed by a master’s degree and doctorate in electrical engineering from Stanford University in 1981 and 1985, respectively.
Dr. Rubio was selected by NASA to join the 2017 Astronaut Candidate Class. He reported for duty in August 2017 and having completed the initial astronaut candidate training is now eligible for a mission assignment. The Florida native graduated from the U.S. Military Academy and earned a Doctorate of Medicine from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. Prior to attending medical school, he served as a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter pilot and flew more than 1,100 hours, including more than 600 hours of combat and imminent danger time during deployments to Bosnia, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Rubio is a board certified family physician and flight surgeon. At the time of his selection, he was serving in the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne).