Joseph Michael "Joe" Acaba (born May 17, 1967) is an educator, hydrogeologist, and NASA astronaut. In May 2004 he became the first person of Puerto Rican heritage to be named as a NASA astronaut candidate, when he was selected as a member of NASA Astronaut Training Group 19. He completed his training on February 10, 2006 and was assigned to STS-119, which flew from March 15 to March 28, 2009 to deliver the final set of solar arrays to the International Space Station. Acaba served as a Flight Engineer aboard the International Space Station, having launched on May 15, 2012. He arrived at the space station on May 17 and returned to Earth on September 17, 2012 at 6:53am Moscow Standard Time when touchdown was officially recorded by the Russian Federal Space Agency.
On March 18, 2008, Acaba was honored by the Senate of Puerto Rico, which sponsored his first trip to the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico since being selected for space flight. During his visit, which was announced by then President of the Puerto Rican Senate, Kenneth McClintock, he met with schoolchildren at the Capitol, as well as at the Bayamón, Puerto Rico Science Park, which includes a planetarium and several surplus NASA rockets among its exhibits. Acaba, returned to Puerto Rico on June 1, 2009. During his visit, he was presented with a proclamation by then Governor Luis Fortuño. He spent seven days on the island and came into contact with over 10,000 persons, most of them schoolchildren. He also received the Ana G. Mendez University System Presidential Medal and a Doctorate Honoris Causa from the Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico, where he inaugurated a flight simulator on February 7, 2013 during his most recent of many visits to Puerto Rico to promote the study of math and science among students, as well as to visit his relatives. Caras Magazine named him one of the most influential and exciting Puerto Ricans of 2012.
View images of the event:
Download STS-119 Press kit 2009
To Visit Acaba's Space Journey clic here
Astronaut Joe Acaba Encourages Educators to Spark Student Interest in STEM
[Spanish Language Version] The nation needs educators to help prepare the next generation of problem solvers to be on the forefront of innovation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Listen as educator and flight engineer Joe Acaba talks about his mission to the space station and the importance of educators’ sparking student interest in STEM.