On the 50th anniversary of the moonwalk, former astronaut Ellen Ochoa reflects on the Apollo landing

Fifty years ago this summer, Neil Armstrong took his “giant leap for mankind” on the lunar surface. In his wake hundreds of others have flown into space, including Ellen Ochoa, a four-time shuttle astronaut who last year stepped down as director of the Johnson Space Center.

Ochoa, Hauser Visiting Leader at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Center for Public Leadership this semester, was still in elementary school when that first moonwalk occurred, on July 20, 1969.

Ochoa recalled the excitement at her home that day, but said the idea of an American woman becoming an astronaut was so far-fetched at the time that it didn’t occur to her that she might fly in space until 15 years later, during graduate school at Stanford. In 1991, Ochoa became the world’s first female Hispanic astronaut. She studied the Earth’s atmosphere from the space shuttle and helped build the International Space Station. Last week she shared her thoughts on the legacy of the moon landings and on her own career in space with the Gazette.

By Alvin Powell

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