The appointment of seasoned astronaut Joe Acaba as head of the Astronaut Office at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston on Thursday created history.

According to NASA, Acaba is the first person of Hispanic ancestry to hold the position of chief astronaut.

Joe will play a crucial role in ensuring that our NASA astronauts are ready for the challenges ahead as we build on the International Space Station’s extraordinary success in low-Earth orbit with our eyes on the Moon and then Mars, said Bill Nelson, NASA administrator.

California native Acaba served as a reserve in the U.S. Marines before joining NASA in 2004. Troubleshooting European Space Agency hardware with the Hardware Integration Team in the Space Station Branch was his first task with the organization.

According to NASA, the chief astronaut’s responsibilities include allocating crew members for upcoming missions and overseeing resources and operations.

Acaba has spent 306 days in space as a member of three missions throughout the course of his nearly 18-year career. 2009 saw the launch of his maiden space mission, a trip to the International Space Station for the delivery of solar-generating wings. His biography states that during this mission, he performed two spacewalks.

Norm Knight, director of flight operations for NASA, praised Joe as a “great leader” who “brings a wealth of expertise to the Astronaut Office.” I am certain that Joe will be a fantastic leader for the Astronaut Office and will successfully lead our astronauts through an exciting future since I am aware of the importance of this post and the integrity of those who have previously served.

Drew Feustel, who had been interim head since Reid Wiseman’s resignation in 2022, will be replaced by Acaba, according to NASA.


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