Tuesday morning, Jose Hernandez told a crowd of about 75 people outside Modesto's City Hall that he plans to run for Congress in the newly-formed 10th district.
After 10 years with NASA and one shuttle flight, astronaut Jose Hernandez is leaving the space agency for a job in the private sector, the space agency announced today (Jan. 14). Hernandez, the son of Mexican migrant farm workers, served as a mission specialist on the STS-128 mission of the space shuttle Discovery in 2009. He will accept a position in the aerospace industry, officials said. "Jose's talent and dedication have contributed greatly to the agency, and he is an inspiration to many," Peggy Whitson, chief of the Astronaut Office at NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, said in a statement. "We wish him all the best with this new phase of his career."
From the fieldhand to spaceman Hernandez, 48, was born in California. He spent much of his childhood in the fields of Mexico and California, picking cucumbers, strawberries and other produce with his family. His fieldhand-to-spaceman story has been, he hopes, an inspiration for the Latino community. Hernandez didn't learn English until he was 12 years old, yet still excelled in school, eventually earning a master's degree in electrical and computer engineering from the University of California, Santa Barbara. In 2001, Hernandez joined NASA as a materials research engineer at JSC. Three years later, he was selected as an astronaut candidate, and he completed his astronaut training in 2006, NASA officials said. Hernandez was a mission specialist on Discovery's STS-128 mission in 2009. During that flight, he oversaw the transfer of more than 18,000 pounds (8,182 kilograms) of supplies and equipment between the shuttle and International Space Station, according to NASA officials.