NASA Astronaut Jose Hernandez to appear at the NSS International Space Development Conference

Jose Hernandez

Former Astronaut was the Subject of the Amazon Hit Movie A Million Miles Away

Former NASA astronaut and STEM advocate Jose Hernandez will give a keynote speech at the National Space Society’s 2024 International Space Development Conference® (ISDC®), as well as addressing youth attending the conference’s STEM sessions.

Hernandez followed a unique path into his career as an astronaut. Growing up as the son of migrant farmworkers in Central California, his hopes of going into space seemed an impossible reach, but his father encouraged him to work toward his dreams. Despite moving from town to town and not learning English until he was 12, Hernandez excelled in school, going on to earn a BS in electrical engineering from the University of the Pacific and an MS in computer and electrical engineering from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He worked at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory from 1990 until 2001, developing the first full-field digital mammography system.

During this time, he applied several times to be an astronaut. On his 12th attempt, he was finally accepted and began training in 2004, and upon completion was assigned to space shuttle launch and landing operations at the Kennedy Space Center. He began training for shuttle flight STS-128 in 2008 and flew in 2009 as a mission specialist.

“Mr. Hernandez is emblematic of the best America has to offer,” said Dale Skran, NSS COO. “Despite facing innumerable challenges as a young man, he persevered and ultimately achieved his goal of flying in space. His wonderful example of tenacity shows us all what is possible, and he has been an incredible role model for countless STEM students nationwide.”

Hernandez has received multiple awards in his career, including two NASA Service Awards, an Outstanding Engineer Award from Lawrence Livermore, UC Santa Barbara’s Distinguished Alumnus Award, the Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Award, and was a Graduate Engineering Minority Fellow, among many other accomplishments and recognitions.

“The ISDC is the only major space conference that is intended for everyone, from space professionals to students to the lay public. It is the largest and longest running space conference anywhere,” said Aggie Kobrin, the NSS Event Manager. “We’re thrilled to have inspirational figures like Mr. Hernandez inspiring not just our young attendees, but all of us—his message resonates with everyone.”


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