Astronaut Joe Acaba was born in 1967 in Inglewood, California, and was the third child of Ralph and Elsie Acaba.An Average Joe Is Born
Joe grew up in Anaheim, California, along with two older brothers and a younger sister. He watched how hard his parents worked and sacrificed, which taught him the importance of family and hard work.The Early Years
Joe loved the outdoors and would go exploring with his friends. He also became fascinated with the space program. As a young boy, Joe recalls watching his grandfather’s reel-to-reel tapes of the Apollo missions. It was then that Joe first thought about becoming an astronaut.Growing Up
Joe loved reading science fiction books. Like so many other kids, he imagined what space exploration must be like and how incredible it would be to become an astronaut. But before he could get to space, he had to grow up like everyone else. There were the classic school pictures…
As Joe grew older, he still loved the outdoors and exploring the area around his home. And while he was still interested in space, he decided to pursue a career in Earth science.
Joe graduated from high school in 1987. He received a Bachelor of Science in geology from the University of California-Santa Barbara in 1990. In 1992, he earned his master’s in geology from the University of Arizona.Getting an Education
During college, Joe served his country as a member of the U.S. Marine Corps, Reserves.
Joe worked for a while as a hydrogeologist (someone who studies water that is underground) in Los Angeles. He joined the U.S. Peace Corps and worked in the Dominican Republic as an environmental education volunteer. From there, Joe went to the Bahamas and was the manager of the Caribbean Marine Research Center at Lee Stocking Island in the Exumas, Bahamas.
At that time, Joe fell in love with teaching. After leaving the marine research center, Joe taught high school science and middle school science and math in Florida.
While Joe was teaching, he found out NASA was encouraging educators to apply to become an astronaut candidate in 2002. In 2004, he got the call of a lifetime, becoming one of three educators chosen in the 2004 astronaut candidates’ class. Joe packed up, left Florida, and traveled to Houston to begin his training.NASA Came Calling
Joe’s first flight was in 2009 aboard space shuttle Discovery on STS-119. Joe flew to the International Space Station with five other crewmates. Joe was a mission specialist, and along with two other astronauts, performed two spacewalks. On the spacewalks, he helped to attach the final pair of power-generating solar array wings and a truss element.From Earth to Space
In 2012, Joe spent 123 days aboard the space station, working as a flight engineer for Expeditions 31 and 32. In this role, Joe supported the arrival of the first commercial resupply spacecraft, a SpaceX Dragon, and was the prime robotic arm operator for the capture and release of the third Japanese cargo ship, HTV3. Joe served as the robotic arm operator for two U.S.-based spacewalks that helped restore a critical power unit and exchange a faulty camera on the station’s robotic arm.Four Months in Space
In the midst of his work as an astronaut, Joe received his Master of Education degree in curriculum and instruction from Texas Tech University in 2015.In the Meantime
Joe had been serving as the Director of Operations in Star City, Russia, to support crew training in Soyuz and Russian Segment systems. In March 2017, NASA announced that Joe would become a crew member of Expeditions 53 and 54 set to launch to the International Space Station.Star City
Joe launched to the station Sept. 12, 2017, and was a flight engineer for Expedition 53. He lived and worked aboard the International Space Station for almost five months. He returned to Earth on Feb. 2, 2018.And Now…