National Hispanic Heritage Month: Michael López-Alegría

In 1995, Michael López-Alegría became the first Spanish-American to fly into outer space. López-Alegría, who had been born in Madrid in 1958, grew up in Mission Viejo, California. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy, earning a B.S. in systems engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1980 and an M.S. in aeronautical engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School in 1988.

López-Alegría was designated a naval aviator in 1981. He reported to the Johnson Space Center for training as an astronaut in 1992. In 1995, López-Alegría made his inaugural flight into space as part of the seven-member crew of the STS-73 mission on board Space Shuttle Columbia. His other journeys into space included the STS-92 mission, in which Space Shuttle Discovery flew to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2000; and the STS-113 mission, in which Space Shuttle Endeavour flew to the ISS in 2002.

In addition, López-Alegría was a spaceflight participant in Russia’s Soyuz TMA-9 mission to the ISS in 2006-07. As part of this 215-day mission, López-Alegría set the record for the longest space mission of any American astronaut up to that time. López-Alegría retains the all-time American record in space for extravehicular activity (EVA), specifically those activities done by someone outside a spacecraft beyond the Earth’s appreciable atmosphere. His total time spent in EVA was 67 hours and 40 minutes. López-Alegría retired from NASA in 2012.

For more information about Michael López-Alegría, please check out

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