José M. Hernández

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José M. Hernández
Jose Hernandez astronaut.jpg
NASA Astronaut
Nationality American
Status Retired
Born José Moreno Hernández
(1962-08-07) August 7, 1962 (age 53)
French Camp, California, United States
Current occupation
Businessman and politician
Previous occupation
University of the Pacific (B.S. 1984)
University of California, Santa Barbara (M.S. 1986)
Time in space
13 days, 20 hours, and 54 minutes[1]
Selection 2004, NASA Astronaut Group 19
Total EVAs
Missions STS-128
Mission insignia
STS-128 patch.png
Retirement January 14, 2011 (2011-01-14)[2]

José Moreno Hernández (born August 7, 1962), is an American engineer and a former NASA astronaut.

Hernández was assigned to the crew of Space Shuttle mission STS-128. He also served as chief of the Materials and Processes branch of Johnson Space Center. Hernández previously developed equipment for full-field digital mammography at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Hernández left NASA in 2011.

In October 2011, Hernández announced that, at the urging of President Barack Obama, he would run as a Democrat for California's newly redrawn 10th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives.[3] In the national elections of 2012 he faced freshman incumbent Representative Jeff Denham in a race that was considered competitive.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Hernández was born in French Camp, California, but calls Stockton, California, his hometown. His family is from La Piedad, Michoacán, with indigenous Purépecha roots.[5][6] In an August 25, 2009 conversation with President Felipe Calderón of Mexico, Hernández stated that as a child, he lived half the year in La Piedad and half in the United States.[6] As a child, Hernández worked alongside his family and other farmworkers throughout the fields of California, harvesting crops and moving from one town to another. He attended many schools and didn't learn to speak English until he was 12.[7][8]

José Hernández participated in Upward Bound during high school, a Federal TRIO program that prepares students for college. He graduated from Franklin High School in Stockton. While in college, he was involved in the Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) program, an academic preparation program that provides support to students from educationally disadvantaged backgrounds so they can attain four-year degrees in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) fields.

He earned a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of the Pacific in 1984. In 1986, Hernández earned an M.S. in electrical and computer engineering from the University of California, Santa Barbara.[9]

Engineering career[edit]

Hernández worked from 1980 to 2004 at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California.[10] While there, Hernández, along with a commercial colleague, developed the first full-field digital mammography imaging system.[11] This invention aids in the early detection of breast cancer.[11]

NASA career[edit]

Jose M. Hernandez as a NASA astronaut

In 2001, Hernández joined the Johnson Space Center, in Houston, Texas.

After three years and being turned down eleven times for astronaut training by NASA, Hernández was selected in May 2004.[12][13] In February 2006 he completed Astronaut Candidate Training that included scientific and technical briefings, intensive instruction in Shuttle and International Space Station systems, physiological training, T-38 flight training, and water and wilderness survival training. On completing this initial training, Hernández was assigned to the Shuttle Branch to support Kennedy Space Center Operations in support of Shuttle launch and landing preparations.

In May 2007 Hernández served as an aquanaut during the NEEMO 12 mission aboard the Aquarius underwater laboratory, living and working underwater for eleven days.[14]

Hernández worked various technical assignments until his selection on July 15, 2008, as a mission specialist on the STS-128 mission, which launched on August 28, 2009. While in orbit, Hernandez became the first person to use the Spanish language in space while tweeting.[15][16][17][18][19]

The STS-128 mission ended its 14 day journey on September 11, 2009 at Edwards Air Force Base, California at 5:53 pm PST.

Congressional campaign[edit]

Hernandez told the Stockton Record in the summer of 2009 that he would consider running against fellow Democrat Dennis Cardoza in his Stockton based district.[20]

Hernández announced at Pacific Union College on September 29, 2011 that at the urging of President Barack Obama he was considering a run for the U.S. House of Representatives and would announce his decision on October 11, 2011.[21] He announced his candidacy as promised on October 11 via Twitter[22] by linking to his campaign website.[23] Hernandez made his first public campaign appearance on January 14, 2012, at a Democratic Candidate Forum in Tracy at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites.

In March 2012, Bell, McAndrews & Hiltachk, a law firm with links to the California Republican Party, sued in Sacramento County Superior Court to block Hernandez from describing himself as an "astronaut/scientist/engineer" on the June ballot. The lawsuit stated that "astronaut is not a title one carries for life"; the election code requires the description be accurate for the previous calendar year.[24] "Allowing a candidate to use the profession of 'astronaut' when he hasn't served in that profession recently is akin to allowing someone to use a title of 'sailor' when they no longer own or operate a ship," said Jennifer Kerns, a California Republican Party spokeswoman. On March 29, a Sacramento County Superior Court judge ruled that Hernández may be described as an astronaut on the June 5 primary ballot.[25]

The payment of taxes were an issue for both Hernandez and his opponent. Denham criticized Hernandez for a tax lien of $10,813 imposed by the IRS in 2010 but only paid in 2012. In turn, Hernandez attacked Denham for two tax liens imposed against his business in 2003.[26]


Hernández has received the endorsement of Democracy for America, and was selected as one of the Dean Dozen they were supporting in 2012. In November 2012, Hernandez lost to the incumbent, Congressman Jeff Denham, in the General Election for California's new 10th District. Hernandez finished in the polls with 46% of the vote.[27]


As of September 2012, most of Hernandez's campaign funds came from outside his district and many donations came from left-wing political action committees and public employee unions. Speaking of his fundraising Hernandez said, "there aren't any special interest groups that are going to come back and say I have to vote for something. I don't believe they're going to influence me in making decisions on what's best for my district." Hernandez said that he does not think organizations like teachers unions to be special interest groups.[28]

Political views[edit]


Speaking on the topic of illegal immigration Hernandez said, "Anytime you have a country that has 11 million undocumented workers, you've got to come to grips that the system is broken." Hernandez wants to find a way to allow illegal immigrants to become citizens. Specifically, he said, "I would want to see a path to legalization of people who have been living in this country a certain period of time...and have not gotten in trouble with the law (or) been a big burden to society in terms of social care." He feels that illegal immigrants should have to pay back taxes in order to obtain legal status. Hernandez does not favor a guest worker program or a secure ID program.[28]


Hernandez supports California's Proposition 30, a ballot measure proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown to increase income taxes on those earning more than $250,000 and raise the sales tax rate by a quarter-cent for everyone. To balance the federal budget, Hernandez says there needs to be a combination of tax increases and budget cuts.[28]

Personal life[edit]

Hernández is married and has five children. For several years, his wife, Adela, ran a Mexican restaurant just outside the Johnson Space Center gates, called Tierra Luna Grill, which is Spanish for Earth Moon Grill.[16][29] In 2014 Jose Hernández joined the Board of Directors for the nonprofit humanitarian space agency, SpaceUnited.[30]

Awards and honors[edit]

Hernández has earned or been awarded:

  • Graduate Engineering Minority Fellow (GEM) (1985)
  • Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Award, “Outstanding Technical Contribution” (1995)
  • Society of Mexican American Engineers and Scientists (MAES) “Medalla de Oro” recipient for professional and community contributions (1999)
  • U.S. Department of Energy “Outstanding Performance Commendation” (2000)
  • NASA Service Awards (2002, 2003)
  • Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory “Outstanding Engineer Award” (2001)
  • Upward Bound National TRIO Achiever Award (2001)
  • Eta Kappa Nu Electrical Engineering Honor Society member and awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from University of California at Santa Barbara (2006).
  • José Hernández Middle School, in San Jose, California, is named after him[12]
  • University of California, Santa Barbara 2015 Distinguished Alumnus[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Astronauts and Cosmonauts (sorted by "Time in Space"). Retrieved on 2012-10-09.
  2. ^ "Astronaut Jose Hernandez Leaves NASA". NASA. Retrieved 16 January 2011. 
  3. ^ Carnia, Catalina (11 October 2011). "Ex-astronaut Hernandez to run for Congress". USA Today. Retrieved 7 October 2012. 
  4. ^ House Race Ratings, New York Times, accessed October 2012.
  5. ^ [1][dead link]
  6. ^ a b Sala de Prensa | Presidencia de la República. Retrieved on 2012-10-09.
  7. ^ From farm fields to outer space » Standard-Times. Retrieved on 2012-10-09.
  8. ^ Perko, Marge Pamintuan (October 26, 2016). "To the Stars and Beyond". Retrieved October 26, 2015.  External link in |website= (help)
  9. ^ a b Cohen, Julie (September 28, 2015). "UCSB Alumni Association Honors NASA Astronaut". Retrieved September 28, 2015.  External link in |website= (help)
  10. ^ "JOSÉ M. HERNÁNDEZ NASA Astronaut". NASA. October 2009. Retrieved April 8, 2010. 
  11. ^ a b "2004 Astronaut Candidate". NASA. May 6, 2004. Retrieved April 8, 2010. 
  12. ^ a b Fernandez, Lisa (September 30, 2014). "Jose Hernandez, Migrant-Turned-Astronaut, Has Middle School Named for Him in San Jose". KNTV. Retrieved March 13, 2015.  External link in |website= (help)
  13. ^ "Former NASA Astronaut Jose Hernandez Shares His Journey With Local Students". April 30, 2013. Retrieved March 13, 2015.  External link in |website= (help)
  14. ^ NASA (May 17, 2007). "NEEMO 12". NASA. Retrieved September 26, 2011. 
  15. ^ Jose Hernandez (August 29, 2009). "Jose's first on-orbit Spanish language tweet". Retrieved October 3, 2009. 
  16. ^ a b [2][dead link]
  17. ^ "In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month - NASA Astronaut José Hernández". September 24, 2010. Retrieved November 23, 2015.  External link in |website= (help)
  18. ^ Hughes, Patty (March 27, 2012). "Congressional Candidate Jose Hernandez: Astronaut -- Or Not?". Retrieved November 23, 2015.  External link in |website= (help)
  19. ^ "Reaching for the Stars: An Evening with José Hernández and Los Ubers". September 2, 2015. Retrieved November 23, 2015.  External link in |website= (help)
  20. ^ Hernandez weighs political arena. (2009-07-19). Retrieved on 2012-10-09.
  21. ^ Pena, Larry (30 September 2011). "Astronaut Jose Hernandez: "Don’t Ever, Ever, Ever Give Up"". PUC News & Events. Retrieved 30 September 2011. 
  22. ^ "Twitter / @Astro_Jose". 10 October 2011. Retrieved 10 October 2011. 
  23. ^ "Jose Hernandez For Congress". 10 October 2011. Retrieved 10 October 2011. 
  24. ^ Michael Doyle, "Candidate challenged over 'astronaut' title", Fresno Bee 23 March 2012
  25. ^ Joe Garofoli, "Judge: Jose Hernandez can be 'astronaut' on ballot", San Francisco Chronicle 30 March 2012
  26. ^ [3]
  27. ^ "Total Raised and Spent". Retrieved 11 February 2013. 
  28. ^ a b c "Congressional candidates have different views on what nation needs". Modesto Bee. 15 September 2012. 
  29. ^ "Local restaurant owner heading to space". KTRK-TV. August 21, 2009. Retrieved October 3, 2009. 
  30. ^ "Astronaut And Engineer Added To Nonprofit Humanitarian Space Agency Board Of Directors". PRLog. May 30, 2014. Retrieved May 30, 2014. 

External links[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.