Ellen Baker is an American physician and a NASA astronaut. She was born Ellen Louise Shulman Baker on April 27, 1953 in Fayetteville, North Carolina. She was raised in New York City and graduated from Bayside High School in 1970. She then attended the University at Buffalo and earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in geology in 1974. She then enrolled at Cornell University and earned her doctorate in medicine four years later. After completing medical school, Baker went to the University of Texas Health Science Center to be trained in internal medicine. After three years of training, she was certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine.
In 1981, Baker joined NASA as a medical officer at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, where she served as a physician in the Flight Medicine Clinic. She took courses to complete the Air Force Aerospace Medicine Course at Brooks Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. Baker was selected by NASA and became an astronaut in June 1985. Her first space flight, aboard the STS-34 Atlantis, launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on October 18, 1989. During the mission, they conducted medical experiments, deployed the Galileo prove that explored Jupiter, and mapped the atmospheric ozone. It landed at Edwards Air Force Base in California five days later, after 79 orbits of the Earth. Over ten years later, Baker embarked on her second space flight. The STS-50 Columbia took off on June 25, 1992 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The 14 day flight was the first one of the United States Microgravity Laboratory and the first Extended Duration Orbiter flight. During the mission, the crew accomplished scientific experiments involving crystal growth, fluid physics, fluid dynamics, biological science, and combustion science. They orbited the Earth 221 times.
After this flight, Baker resumed her previous position in NASA, and went back to school. She attended the University of Texas School of Public Health and earned her Master’s Degree in Public Health in 1994. One year later, she took on her third mission via STS-71 Atlantis. It was a ten day flight that launched from the Kennedy Space Center with a seven-member crew and returned there with an eight-member crew. STS-71 was the first Space Shuttle mission to dock with the Russian Space Station Mir, and involved an exchange of crews. The Atlantis Space Shuttle was modified to carry a docking system compatible with the Russian Mir Space Station. It also carried a Spacelab module in the payload bay in which the crew performed various life sciences experiments and data collections. Mission accomplished in 153 orbits of the Earth, traveling 4.1 million miles in 235 hours and 23 minutes.
Baker is currently Chief of the Astronaut Office Education/Medical Branch. She is married to Kenneth J. Baker, and they have two daughters.