Astronaut Ellen Ochoa to Speak April 6 at Kansas City’s Linda Hall Library During Free Event Open to the Public. If you’d prefer to participate virtually, register using the link below.

American NASA astronaut Ellen Ochoa onboard the SpaceHab module in the cargo bay of the Space Shuttle Discovery during shuttle mission STS-96, 27th May-3rd June 1999. Discovery carried the SpaceHab module in the payload, with cargo for outfitting the International Space Station (ISS) in preparation for occupancy. (Photo by Space Frontiers/Archive Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Ochoa, the first Latina to go to space and second woman to lead Johnson Space Center,  

will discuss her four space shuttle missions and the future of human spaceflight   

If you’d prefer to participate virtually, register here to watch the live stream. 

Pioneering astronaut Dr. Ellen Ochoa will discuss her experiences in space and the future of human spaceflight April 6 at the Linda Hall Library in Kansas City. As the former director of the Johnson Space Center, Dr. Ochoa – the first Latina and second woman to hold that position – will describe what it’s like to visit space during a free presentation: “Breaking Barriers: An Evening with Astronaut Ellen Ochoa.” 

Dr. Ochoa will appear in person at the Library, which also will live stream her lecture for people who wish to watch online. The event provides a rare opportunity for the public to hear from this trailblazing engineer, inventor, astronaut and author who was the first Latina to go to space. 

“When I grew up, little girls didn’t dream of becoming astronauts, because women weren’t allowed to be astronauts,” Dr. Ochoa said. “I drew inspiration from the first six women selected for the astronaut program in 1978 and hope I can be the same sort of role model for future generations.” 

Dr. Ochoa will recount memories from her four NASA missions, which started with the 1993 Space Shuttle Discovery, as well as her 1,000 hours in orbit and role in the first docking to the International Space Station. She’ll also speak to the importance of future space exploration, including NASA’s planned Artemis missions that will land the first woman and first person of color on the moon. 

Those milestones are especially important to Dr. Ochoa, who recently wrote an English-Spanish children’s book entitled, “Dr. Ochoa’s Stellar World: We Are All Scientists.” The bilingual book is the first in a series Dr. Ochoa conceived to introduce kids to STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics) concepts and inspire scientific curiosity. 

“Dr. Ochoa is a true pioneer and has led an impressive life of service to the benefit of us all, but especially women and underrepresented students,” said Eric Ward, vice president for public programs at the Linda Hall Library. “It’s not often you get to hear first-hand what space is like and why it’s important that we continue to explore our solar system. Attendees will walk away with a greater appreciation for and understanding of space travel, and the science that surrounds us every day.” 

As a leading independent research library, the Linda Hall Library is committed to free public programming that includes expert lectures and adult education opportunities. The Library brings science to life in new and relevant ways through events like Dr. Ochoa’s April 6 presentation in Kansas City, which also will be available via live stream for an online audience.  

Dr. Ochoa worked at NASA for 30 years, starting in 1988 as a research engineer. She retired from federal service after serving as the 11th director of the Johnson Space Center from 2013 to 2018. Dr. Ochoa is a co-inventor of patented methodologies, including optical systems that detect imperfections in a repeating pattern and recognize objects. She earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from San Diego State University, and a master’s degree and doctorate in electrical engineering from Stanford University.  

Dr. Ochoa’s lecture is free and open to the public, though pre-registering is required and seating is limited. You may attend in person on Thursday, April 6, from 6:30-7:30 p.m. CDT at the Linda Hall Library, 5109 Cherry Street in Kansas City, Missouri, by registering here. Parking is free in Library parking lots and along the west side of Holmes Street between 51st and 52nd streets. If you’d prefer to participate virtually, register here to watch the live stream. 

About the Linda Hall Library  

Since 1946, the Linda Hall Library has been amassing collections that have powered investigation, innovation, exploration and inspiration. Today, the Library is a leading independent research library widely known for the breadth and depth of its collections across 82 languages, its role as an international destination for scholarship and research, its support of teachers of the STEM curricula, and the vast resources it provides to learners of all ages interested in scientific exploration and discovery. Learn more at