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Ellen Ochoa

Deputy Director
NASA/Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas
Country of origin: USA

What I do.
Along with the Director, I lead Johnson Space Center in its mission to advance human exploration and utilization of space by conducting space operations, as well as developing space flight hardware and systems. The Center is the home of Mission Control and has responsibility for the operation of the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station, including the selection and training of astronauts and flight controllers. Additionally, the Center hosts the Constellation Program, which will enable humans to explore beyond low Earth orbit, as well as the Commercial Crew/Cargo Project, which fosters increased commercial space opportunities.

What I find exciting.
Every time we accomplish a difficult mission or activity in space (and almost every activity in space is difficult, even when it looks easy), it's exciting and rewarding to be part of the team. Getting to actually go into space as part of four Space Shuttle crews was an absolutely unparalleled experience. And when I get an opportunity to view the International Space Station passing overhead, I feel so lucky that I was able to visit and help assemble it.

What I wish someone had told me.
Having worked mostly by myself in laboratories while I was getting my PhD, and as a research engineer, I didn't realize the importance and power of working in teams. That's what I've really learned at NASA-that amazing things can be accomplished when people work together.