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Jose Hernandez on A DaVinci Life – Exploring Genius

One important hallmark of living a DaVinci Life is scoffing at obstacles that block the path to your dreams. Today’s guest can tell you a little about that. Astronaut Jose Hernandez began his journey in Mexico as the son of migrant workers and soared all the way to outer space, And along the way, he helped to shape NASA’s space policies and precarious budgets. He struck a blow against breast cancer by developing advanced early detection technologies and spent a fortnight at the ISS furthering our understanding of Space science. Mr. Hernandez is a DaVinci who truly reaches for the stars. And you can read all about that in his fascinating book of the same name. We’re proud to welcome Jose Hernandez

Jose’s Links

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. In the national elections of 2012 he faced freshman incumbent Representative Jeff Denham in a race that was considered competitive.
Hernández was born in French Camp, California, but calls Stockton, California, his hometown. His family is from La Piedad, Michoacán, with indigenous Purépecha roots.

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. 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.

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

NASA career
José M. Hernández 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. 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.

Hernández worked on 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, Hernández became the first person to use the Spanish language in space while tweeting.

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

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. He announced his candidacy as promised on October 11 via Twitter by linking to his campaign website.

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 the University of California at Santa Barbara (2006).
José Hernández Middle School, in San Jose, California, is named after him
University of California, Santa Barbara 2015 Distinguished Alumnus
The United States Hispanic Leadership Institute, 2016 National Hispanic Hero Award


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