La Mesa woman inducted into International Air and Space Hall of Fame

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SAN DIEGO -- Two women who have made history in space, including a La Mesa woman, were inducted into the International Air & Space Hall of Fame Wednesday night at the San Diego Air & Space Museum.

So many of us have dreamed about what it is really like up in outer space, but it is something that is a dream come true for Peggy Whitson and Ellen Ochoa.

“Living in an environment with no gravity is really unique,” Whitson said.

“There’s two really different things about being in space and just being in the micro gravity environment and then of course the views of earth from space,” Ochoa said.

Ochoa, a Grossmont High School and San Diego State graduate, has done four space shuttle missions.

“My third and fourth flights were part of assembling the international space station so one of them was the very first shuttle to dock with the station,” Ochoa said.

Ochoa also made history as the first woman of Hispanic heritage to fly into space. She told FOX 5 about some incredible memories.

“Some of my favorites when we were in an orbit where we were actually going down, sort of, the coast of California and we could see the Bay Area where I lived for 10 years and then San Diego and San Diego Harbor and you know all those things, places that were familiar to me. That was really special,” Ochoa said.

Whitson said she was nine when she knew she wanted to be an astronaut.

“I watched Neil Armstrong and and Buzz Aldrin walk on the moon,” Whitson said.

Little did she know at that time she would also one day make history as the first female commander of the International Space Station and set the U.S. record for the most days spent in space at 665 days.

“I think the thing that makes it most special was being up there long enough to actually have it be your home. To be comfortable and relaxed in an environment that is so completely different than here on earth,” Whitson said.

Their success and dedication is why the two women have been inducted into the International Air & Space Hall of fame. It is an honor they said is special, but that big dreamers can one day achieve too.

“It takes dedication, hard work, studying science, engineering and math,” Ochoa said.

“It’s not going to get handed to you on a platter. You got to go out and push yourself to do even more than you think you can," Whitson said.

Since 1963, more than 200 people have been inducted into the hall of fame at San Diego's Air & Space Museum.

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