Joseph M. Acaba : biography
Joseph Michael "Joe" Acaba (born May 17, 1967) is an educator, hydrogeologist, and NASA astronaut. In May 2004 he became the first person of Puerto Rican heritage to be named as a NASA astronaut candidate, when he was selected as a member of NASA Astronaut Training Group 19. He completed his training on February 10, 2006 and was assigned to STS-119, which flew from March 15 to March 28, 2009 to deliver the final set of solar arrays to the International Space Station. Acaba served as a Flight Engineer aboard the International Space Station, having launched on May 15, 2012. He arrived at the space station on May 17 and returned to Earth on September 17, 2012 at 6:53am Moscow Standard Time when touchdown was officially recorded by the Russian Federal Space Agency.
On March 18, 2008, Acaba was honored by the Senate of Puerto Rico, which sponsored his first trip to the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico since being selected for space flight. During his visit, which was announced by then President of the Puerto Rican Senate, Kenneth McClintock, he met with schoolchildren at the Capitol, as well as at the Bayamón, Puerto Rico Science Park, which includes a planetarium and several surplus NASA rockets among its exhibits.http://www.vocero.com/noticia-17774-invitarn_a_joe_acab_a_puerto_rico.html Acaba, returned to Puerto Rico on June 1, 2009. During his visit, he was presented with a proclamation by then Governor Luis Fortuño. He spent seven days on the island and came into contact with over 10,000 persons, most of them schoolchildren. He also received the Ana G. Mendez University System Presidential Medal and a Doctorate Honoris Causa from the Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico, where he inaugurated a flight simulatorhttp://www.elnuevodia.com/despegadenuevojosephacaba-1443610.html on February 7, 2013 during his most recent of many visits to Puerto Rico to promote the study of math and science among students, as well as to visit his relatives. Caras Magazine named him one of the most influential and exciting Puerto Ricans of 2012.
On May 6, 2004, Acaba and ten other people were selected from 99 applicants by NASA as astronaut candidates. NASA's administrator, Sean O'Keefe, in the presence of John Glenn, announced the members of the "19th group of Astronaut Candidates", an event which has not been repeated since 1958 when the original group of astronauts was presented to the world. Acaba, who was selected as an Educator Mission Specialist, completed his astronaut training on February 10, 2006 along with the other ten Astronaut Candidates. Upon completion of his training, Acaba was assigned to the Hardware Integration Team in the International Space Station branch, working technical issues with European Space Agency (ESA) hardware.
Acaba was assigned to the crew of STS-119 as Mission Specialist Educator, which was launched on March 15, 2009 at 7:43 p.m., after NASA engineers repaired a leaky gas venting system the previous week, to deliver the final set of solar arrays to the International Space Station. Acaba, who carried on his person a Puerto Rican flag, requested that the crew be awakened on March 19 (Day 5) with the Puerto Rico folklore song "Qué Bonita Bandera" (What a Beautiful Flag) referring to the Puerto Rican flag, written in 1971 by Florencio Morales Ramos (Ramito), (Spanish newspaper) Retrieved March 21, 2009 and sung by Jose Gonzalez and Banda Criolla., (Spanish) Retrieved March 20, 2009
On March 20, he provided support to the first mission spacewalk and on March 21, he performed a spacewalk in which he helped to successfully unfurl the final "wings" of the solar array that will augment power to the ISS, as it prepares to double its capacity to house six astronauts in the future. On March 28 the and its crew of seven safely touched down on runway 15 at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 3:14 p.m. EDT. Acaba said he was amazed at the views from the space station.
"It was kind of surreal to look out the window and see your two buddies out there that you've been training with for a long time and see them out there…it was a special moment," said Acaba.
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