In 2004, Joseph Michael Acabá made history as the first person of Puerto Rican descent to be named as a NASA astronaut candidate. Acabá was born in 1967 in Inglewood, California. His parents, Ralph and Elsie Acabá, are from the municipality of Hatillo in Puerto Rico and had moved to California earlier in the decade.... Continue Reading →

In 2018, Serena Maria Auñón-Chancellor became only the second woman of Hispanic descent to fly into outer space. (Ellen Ochoa, who is of Mexican descent, made her first spaceflight in 1993.)  Auñón-Chancellor (she pronounces Auñón as ON-un) was born in Indianapolis in 1976. Her father, Dr. Jorge Auñón, is a Cuban exile who arrived in... Continue Reading →

On July 16, 1969, the three astronauts of Apollo 11 began a momentous journey when a Saturn V rocket launched their spacecraft into the heavens from Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island in Florida. A half-century later, the Moon-bound trip undertaken by Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, and Michael Collins remains one of the greatest... Continue Reading →

NASA astronaut Daniel M. Tani was born in 1961 in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania. Less than two decades earlier, his parents Rose and Henry N. Tani and their oldest son had been forced to relocate from their California farm to internment camps for Japanese immigrants and Japanese-Americans during World War II. As one minister noted during... Continue Reading →

Kalpana Chawla, an American astronaut who became the first woman of Indian descent to travel into space, was born in the city of Karnal in northern India in 1962. As a child, she demonstrated a strong enthusiasm for human flight by drawing pictures of airplanes. She also visited flying clubs in that region of India... Continue Reading →

The trailblazing NASA astronaut Leroy Chiao was born in Milwaukee in 1960. The son of immigrant Taiwanese parents of Han Chinese ancestry, Chiao grew up in Danville, California. He graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1983 with a B.S. in chemical engineering. Chiao went on to earn an M.S. and Ph.D. in chemical... Continue Reading →

In September 1992, Dr. Mae Jemison became the first African-American woman to fly into outer space when she went into orbit on board the Space Shuttle Endeavour. Jemison was born in 1956 in Decatur, Alabama, moving to Chicago with her family when she was only three years old. She earned a bachelor of science in... Continue Reading →

In 2002, astronaut John Herrington became the first enrolled member of a Native American tribe to travel into outer space. (William R. Pogue, who flew into outer space during the 1970s as the pilot for the Skylab 4 mission, was of Choctaw ancestry; however, he was not an enrolled member of the Choctaw.) As a... Continue Reading →

In 1986, astronaut Franklin R. Chang Díaz became the first Hispanic-American to travel into outer space when he flew on board the Space Shuttle Columbia. Chang Díaz, the son of a father of Chinese descent and a mother who is Costa Rican, was born in San José, Costa Rica, in 1950. He moved to the... Continue Reading →

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