Jose Hernandez, mission specialist candidate. Congratulations.
Tell me what it was like for you to get the news that you'd been
picked to start training as an astronaut.
A: Well, I
would imagine it was much like winning the lottery, that feeling
one would get if they won the lottery. And let me tell you why.
About 3,000 applications are submitted for these positions. Ninety-nine
of us got interviewed. And if the rest of the 79 are anything like
these 19 I interviewed with, I think they all deserve to be selected.
And so, I felt very lucky to have been among the 11 chosen.
quite often that the story of how someone became an astronaut tells
a lot about the dedication and the hard work that went into that.
Your story begins in California back in the 1960s as a member of
a family of migrant farm workers from Mexico. Tell me where you
find the inspiration that led you here. And tell me what some of
the stops were along the way.
I think the
inspiration was my parents. Even though they only had a third-grade
elementary school education, they instilled this expectation that
we would go to college and we would graduate. I think the teachers
took me to the next level in the sense that saying, "Hey, it's not
just enough to graduate high school and get your college education.
You can reach for the stars as well." And it wasn't until I was
in high school and working in the summer on the farms that I heard
that Franklin Chang-Diaz got selected. He sort of became my inspiration
and laid the roadwork for me to embark upon my journey of trying
to get selected.
know NASA has a real important role in supporting and promoting
education too. What do you want to tell young people about the important
role that education plays in the challenging work that is space
flight, as well the challenge of becoming an astronaut?
First of all,
I would say that education is very important in the sense that you
ought to set your goals. And of course, to achieve those goals,
especially if you want to go into engineering or science or any
other career, you need to continue your education and do very well
in school early on. As you move forward and achieve your goals,
you're going to see that they get easier the more education you
get in terms of achieving those goals.
you and your astronaut classmates should be on the missions that
are going to bring the vision for space exploration alive. You're
going to go to the moon. And you are going to go to Mars. What's
your philosophy about the future of humankind moving out into the
cosmos and the role that you get to play in that?
I think it's
in our nature to be explorers. I think that it's only a natural
step in a sense that we've already established the International
Space Station. And the next natural step is to start journeying
beyond the Space Station. We'll use the moon as an outpost and go
to Mars and hopefully beyond. So, we're very excited.