Sunday, June 16, 2024

Joseph Acaba to be NASA’s first Hispanic Chief Astronaut

NASA names veteran astronaut Joseph Acaba, chief of the Astronaut Office at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Acaba makes history as the first Hispanic to be named chief astronaut.

Acaba is a veteran of multiple spaceflights and an educator and member of the U.S. Marines. He will now be responsible for managing astronaut resources and operations as the chief astronaut. The federal agency added that Acaba would also assist in developing astronaut flight crew operations and making crew assignments for future spaceflight missions.

He told ABC News, “I’m definitely living a childhood dream. I think like a lot of kids who, you know, dream of becoming an astronaut. They dreamed of becoming a fireman, you know, a doctor, just lots of dreams that are out there. And so, when you actually know, realize those dreams, and you get there, it’s a pretty great feeling. And so, ever since I was selected, you know, I came from being an educator to becoming an astronaut. That was a huge deal, and then having my various space flights were, unbelievable. I would have never thought that I could have that opportunity. And now becoming named chief of the astronaut office. It’s almost a little bit unreal.”

Acaba will replace NASA astronaut Drew Feustel, who served as deputy chief when NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman left the position at the end of 2022.

Acaba was born in Inglewood, California, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in geology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He graduated with a master’s in geology from the University of Arizona and a doctorate in education, curriculum, and instruction from Texas Tech University in Lubbock.

Acaba’s first spaceflight was in 2009 on the space shuttle Discovery, where he flew as a mission specialist with the shuttle’s STS-119 crew, which delivered the fourth set of solar arrays for the International Space Station. He has since logged two other missions and 306 days in space, taking part in three spacewalks and helping with the arrival of SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft in May 2012.

ABC News