NASA named a man of Hispanic descent as chief of its astronauts for the first time

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Californian Joseph Acabá is a veteran astronaut of Puerto Rican origin who has spent a total of 306 days in space

NASA named a man of Hispanic descent as chief of its astronauts for the first time

Joseph Acabá (NASA)

NASA announced Thursday the appointment of Joseph Acabá as chief of the Astronaut Office at the Johnson Space Center in Houston (Texas), a position in which until now there had not been a person of Hispanic origin like him.

Californian Acabá, a veteran astronaut of Puerto Rican origin who has spent a total of 306 days in space, spread over three missions, replaces US space agency astronaut Drew Feustel, who has been acting head of the office since Reid Wiseman stepped down in late 2022.

In In his new role, Acabá will be responsible for managing astronaut resources and operations.

It will also help develop operational concepts for astronaut flight crews and assign crews for future spaceflight missions, including astronauts assigned to fly the Artemis missions.

Born in 1967, Acabá flew in 2009 aboard the STS-119 in the space shuttle Discovery to the International Space Station (ISS) to deliver the last pair of power-generating solar panel wings, and conducted two spacewalks.

In 2012 he traveled aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft to the space station , where he worked as a flight engineer for Expedition 31/32.

In addition, he most recently served as a flight engineer on the International Space Station for Expedition 53/54.

NASA appointed for the first time a man of Hispanic descent as chief of its astronauts

He most recently served as a flight engineer on the International Space Station (Roscosmos Space Agency Press Service via AP, File)

“Congratulations to Joe Acabá on his appointment as the new head of the Office of Astronauts! Joe is a seasoned space pilot and recognized leader, and will undoubtedly inspire the next generation of NASA astronauts,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement released Thursday. /p>

“As we build on the unprecedented success of the International Space Station in low-Earth orbit, with our sights set on the Moon and then Mars, Joe will play a critical role in ensuring our NASA astronauts are prepared for the challenges that await them,” he added.

Johnson Space Center Director Vanessa Wyche also congratulated Acabá and wished him “the best” in his new position.

Acabá was born in Inglewoodand received a BS in Geology from the University of California at Santa Barbara, an MS in Geology from the University of Arizona, and an MS in Education, Curriculum and Instruction from Texas Tech University, Lubbock.

Prior to being selected as an astronaut in 2009, Acabá served in the USMarine Corps Reserve and in the Peace Corps, where he worked as a geologist and taught b>high school.

“Joe is an excellent leader who brings a wealth of experience to the Astronaut Office,” said NASA Director of Flight Operations, Norm Knight.

Since his return to Earth, Acabá has supported the astronaut office in various capacities, including director of operations in Russia and chief from the Vehicle Integration Testing Office.

(With information from EFE)

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