La Mesa astronaut Ellen Ochoa named director of Johnson Space Center

June 17, 2024 – Our town took a magical trip down memory lane today. The Model T Ford Club of America rolled into town for their 2024 National Tour. 

Dozens of these magnificent Model T’s lined our streets. It felt like stepping back in time.

The visitors took a stroll through our town’s rich history, from the old Lakeside Inn, the Auto Speedway route, made famous by racing legend Barney Oldfield, to our charming historic buildings and homes.

The Lakeside Historical Society opened their doors, welcoming everyone to explore the chapel, museum, Gift Shop, and the Speedway monument. It was a little slice of the past brought back to life.

Their visit was short, but the memories will last a lifetime. A huge thank you to the Model T Ford Club of America for stopping by and making the day in our hometown so special.

La Mesa hometown hero and astronaut Ellen Ochoa was recently named the new director of the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston. Ochoa, who considers La Mesa to be her hometown, was the first Hispanic woman to travel into space when she served on a nine-day mission aboard the space shuttle Discovery in 1993. She has flown in space four times, and logged nearly 1,000 hours in orbit. Before her astronaut career, she was a research engineer and inventor, with three patients for optical systems. Ochoa served as deputy director at the Houston space center since 2007. Ochoa 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 in Palo Alto, Calif. She managed the Intelligent Systems Technology Branch at NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., before being selected as an astronaut in 1990. She flew on shuttle missions STS-56 in 1993, STS-66 in 1994, STS-96 in 1999, and STS-110 in 2002, logging a total of 978 hours in space. Ochoa succeeded Michael Coats who retired at the end of 2012 after leading the Johnson center since 2007.