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Meet NASA's Future Explorer - Joe Acaba
09.23.04
 
What's it like to wake up one morning and realize that you've been invited to explore the Universe? The members of the 2004 Astronaut Candidate Class have had several months to contemplate that question. Join us in this series of video interviews with eight members of the class and share in their excitement as they become part of NASA's vision for space exploration.

The 2004 Astronaut Candidate Class

Image above: The 11-member 2004 class of astronauts and three Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronauts. Pictured are (first row, left to right), Bobby Satcher, Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger, Chris Cassidy, Ricky Arnold, Randy Bresnik and Tom Marshburn; (second row) Akihiko Hoshide, Shannon Walker, Joe Acaba, Jim Dutton , Shane Kimbrough, Satoshi Furukawa, Jose Hernandez and Naoko Yamazaki.


Joseph (Joe) Acaba - Mission Specialist-Educator

Joseph M. Acaba poses with a T-38 jet trainer aircraft at Ellington Field
Joe taught 7th and 8th grade science and math in Dunnellon, Florida. He was born in Inglewood, California, and raised in Anaheim along with two older brothers and a younger sister. He now has three children of his own.

Both of Joe's parents were born in Puerto Rico. His dad moved to the States when he was about 10 and his mother moved when she was about 18.

Image to right: Joe Acaba poses with a T-38 jet trainer aircraft at Ellington Field. Credit: NASA

"My dad is my hero. He came to the States with very little and worked hard to make sure we had what we needed," Joe says. "He instilled a real work ethic in me."

That work ethic has helped Joe earn two degrees in geology. He earned a Bachelor's degree from the University of California at Santa Barbara and a Master's degree from the University of Arizona. After working as a hydrogeologist -- someone who studies water that is under ground -- Joe spent two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic, teaching the people about the environment. "Once I did that, I knew that education was what I wanted to do. The only job that could take me away from teaching is being an astronaut," he says. "Being an educator astronaut is the best of both worlds."

An Interview with Astronaut Candidate Joe Acaba:

Joe and his family thought it unbelievable, at first, that he was going to become an astronaut. When asked how he told his children this is what he had to say:
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"I'm a fairly active teacher. I'm not an actor, but I try to keep the kids engaged." Listen as Joe describes his teaching technique in the classroom:
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It's that moment in class when the students really understand a concept that makes a teacher's day complete.
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Joe peaks his students' interests by involving them in problem solving situations.
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SCUBA diving provides an incredible experience.
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The inspiration in Joe's life lies within his family.
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Joe's role as a teacher involves dedication and hard work.
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How has Joe's perception of traveling to the Moon changed since he has become an astronaut candidate?
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NASA Educator astronaut Joseph M. Acaba collects water from a clear running stream during 2004 ASCAN land survival training in the wilderness of Maine
"It's a great responsibility that I have, and I am very proud and honored to be here. The American standard is very high, and I look forward to working hard and to fulfilling my job. It's an honor and I'm glad to be a part of it."
-- Joe Acaba


Image to right: Joe collects water from a clear running stream during land survival training in the wilderness of Maine. The water would also be treated using iodine tablets before drinking.

Hispanic Astronauts
This site was created to focus on the Hispanic men and women who have participated in the NASA Career Astronauts program and are members of the NASA astronaut corps.
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Full Interview
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Astronaut Candidate Joe Acaba
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