José M. Hernández
José M. Hernández is a former NASA astronaut and the CEO of Tierra Luna Engineering, LLC.
José wanted to fly in space ever since he heard that the first Hispanic-American had been chosen to travel into space. That hard work paid off when was selected to begin training as a mission specialist as part of the 2004 astronaut candidate class. One of four children in a migrant farming family from Mexico, José -- who didn't learn English until he was 12 years old -- spent much of his childhood on what he calls "the California circuit," traveling with his family from Mexico to southern California each March, then working northward to the Stockton area by November, picking strawberries and cucumbers at farms along the route. They would then return to Mexico for Christmas and start the cycle all over again in the spring.
After graduating high school, José enrolled at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, where he earned a degree in electrical engineering and was awarded a full scholarship to the graduate program at the University of California in Santa Barbara, where he continued his engineering studies. In 1987, he accepted a full-time job with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory where he had worked as a co-op in college.
While at Lawrence Livermore, José worked on signal and image processing applications in radar imaging, computed tomography, and acoustic imaging. Later in his career, José worked on developing quantitative x-ray film imaging analysis techniques for the x-ray laser program. José applied these techniques in the medical physics arena and co-developed the first full-field digital mammography imaging system. This system has proven useful for detecting breast cancer at an earlier stage than present film/screen mammography techniques. José has won recognition awards for his work on this project. He has also worked in the international arena where he represented Lawrence Livermore and the U.S. Department of Energy on Russian nuclear non-proliferation issues.
In 2001, José joined the Johnson Space Center and soon became Chief of the Materials and Processes Branch.
José was selected as part of the 19th class of astronauts in 2004. In 2006, José completed Astronaut Candidate Training and in 2009, he was a mission specialist on the STS-128 mission on board the Space Shuttle, Discovery.
Since leaving NASA, he served as the Executive Director of Strategic Operations at MEI Technologies in Texas. In 2012, he ran for the US House of Representatives in the 10th California Congressional District.
José recently received the 2016 National Hispanic Hero Award presented by the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute.