Joseph Acaba, mission specialist-educator candidate.
A: Thank you.
me what it was like for you when you got the news that you were
picked to come and train to be an astronaut.
It was very
exciting, almost unbelievable. In my classroom when I received the
call, my students were spread out throughout the classroom and the
hallway so I could gain some kind of composure. Luckily, my daughter
was in that class so I was able to share that with her first. And
that was a special moment. It's difficult to explain. I guess it's
a feeling anyone gets when they actually achieve a goal they set
for themselves. Now is the time to set new goals.
selected as an astronaut candidate at all usually is the result
of a lot of dedication and hard work. In your case, you not only
worked to earn two degrees in geology, but you spent time in the
Peace Corps as a teacher before moving into the classroom. What
inspired you to focus your energies and your interests on education?
Well, my parents
always stressed the importance of education, and I've been very
fortunate to have great teachers throughout my education. I've also
had many exciting jobs, very fun jobs. But nothing really felt right
until I became an educator. I felt that's where I can best serve
is as a teacher. I've been in love with it ever since.
this class of 11 astronaut candidates are the first of the educator
astronauts, and you are one of them. The program that chose you
and the others is designed to generate new excitement and new interest
in the nation's teachers and students in science and engineering
and technology. Tell me how you see you and your fellow educator
astronauts inspiring the next generation of explorers.
Well, I think
with us now going through the complete training that all the other
astronauts go through, we're going to be in a great position to
share that with the students. Through our personal excitement, we'll
take that back to them and hopefully inspire them to continue with
the program. Without them, it doesn't go on.
and all of your astronaut classmates should be the folks who are
on the missions that are going to bring the vision for space exploration
to life. You guys are going to be the ones to go to the moon and
learn how we go on from there. Tell me your philosophy about the
future of humankind moving off of the planet and you getting to
be one of the people who do it.
I think it's the next natural step for humans to explore the universe.
I'm looking forward to being part of that team. I hope to play a
role as both a scientist and as an educator. But a big part of it
is to inspire the American people, inspire the next generation of
explorers, because they're going to keep the program going. They're
going to take us farther than we've ever gone before.