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NASA names first person of Hispanic heritage as chief astronaut
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NASA names first person of Hispanic heritage as chief astronaut
by Joe Fisher
Washington DC (UPI) Feb 2, 2023

Veteran astronaut Joe Acaba made history on Thursday when he was named chief of the Astronaut Office at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Acaba is the first person of Hispanic heritage to be named chief astronaut, NASA said.

As we build on the International Space Station's unparalleled success in low-Earth orbit with our eyes on the Moon and then Mars, Joe will play an integral role in ensuring our NASA astronauts are prepared for the challenges ahead," said Bill Nelson, NASA administrator.

Acaba, a California native, joined NASA in 2004, after serving as a reserve in the U.S. Marines. His first assignment with the agency was troubleshooting European Space Agency hardware with the Hardware Integration Team in the Space Station Branch.

The role of the chief astronaut is to assign crew members for future missions and manage resources and operations, according to NASA.

During his nearly 18-year career, Acaba has been part of three missions to space, spending 306 days outside of Earth's atmosphere. His first space mission was a journey to the International Space Station to deliver solar generating wings in 2009. He went on two spacewalks during this mission, according to his biography.

"Joe is an excellent leader who brings a wealth of experience to the Astronaut Office," said Norm Knight, NASA's director of flight operations. "Knowing the significance of this position and the integrity of those who have previously served, I am confident Joe will be an outstanding chief for the Astronaut Office who will successfully lead our astronauts through an exciting future."

Acaba replaces Drew Feustel, who has served as acting chief following the resignation of Reid Wiseman in 2022, NASA said.

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