Joe Acaba is experiencing a teacher's dream. His career began in the classroom, and then he made the leap into the world of science and mathematics that he was teaching about. That leap took him farther than he ever imagined - on an extended stay in low Earth orbit on the International Space Station.
Acaba was selected for the NASA Astronaut Candidate Class of 2004 while teaching middle school mathematics and science at Dunnellon Middle School in Florida. He was one of three classroom teachers selected as mission specialists. He completed Astronaut Candidate Training in 2006, which made him eligible for spaceflight. Acaba's first trip to space was as a mission specialist on space shuttle mission STS-119 in 2009, where he performed two spacewalks. Acaba's next space assignment was flight engineer on the International Space Station as a member of the Expedition 31 and 32 crews. He launched on a Russian Soyuz rocket on May 14, 2012, on his way to the station and returned to Earth on Sept. 16, 2012.
Read the details about Joe Acaba's career as an educator and his experience as an astronaut.
Astronaut Joe Acaba Encourages Educators to Spark Student Interest in STEM
Expedition 32 - Flight Engineer
When Expedition 31 crew members left the station, Joe Acaba remained on the space station as part of the Expedition 32 crew. Acaba is shown with Expedition 31, 32 and 33 crew members as they pose for a group photo at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.
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Expedition 31 - Meet the Crew
The Expedition 31 crew was composed of Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, commander; Russian cosmonauts Gennady Padalka and Sergei Revin, flight engineers; NASA astronauts Joe Acaba and Don Pettit, flight engineers; and European Space Agency astronaut Andre Kuipers, also a flight engineer.
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Expedition 29 - Backup Crew Member
NASA astronaut Joe Acaba trained with the Expedition 29 crew as a backup flight engineer. He is shown here attired in a Russian Sokol launch and entry suit. Acaba trained with the Expedition 29 crew in case a replacement was needed for a crew member because of illness or an emergency.
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Space Shuttle Mission STS-119
STS-119 - Spacewalker
During space shuttle mission STS-119, Joe Acaba participated in a six-hour, 27-minute spacewalk. Acaba, with fellow educator and Mission Specialist Richard Arnold, helped robotic arm operators relocate the Crew Equipment Translation Aid or CETA, cart from the Port 1 to the Starboard 1 truss segment; installed a new coupler on the CETA cart; lubricated snares on the "B" end of the space station's robotic arm; and performed a few "get-ahead" tasks.
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STS-119 Preflight Interview - Mission Specialist Joe Acaba
Get to know Joe Acaba in this 2009 interview. STS-119 was the 125th space shuttle flight, the 36th flight of Discovery and the 28th shuttle flight to the International Space Station. Acaba accumulated 12 hours and 57 minutes during two spacewalks.
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Astronaut Candidate Class 2004-2006
Meet NASA's Future Explorer - Joe Acaba
Former educator Joe Acaba shares his excitement about joining NASA's astronaut corps in this series of interview questions that were recorded before he completed astronaut training.
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