NASA Mission Specialist - Educator
(Dominican Republic 1994-96)
The first returned Peace Corps Volunteer to serve as a NASA astronaut, Joe Acaba served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Dominican Republic (1994-96).
Acaba cited his Peace Corps service as inspiration for his career as an Astronaut. Says Acaba, "Peace Corps has been a fantastic influence on my life. To those of you who are getting ready to go, best of luck. To those of who are Returned Volunteers, thanks for your service. And to all of you who support Peace Corps Volunteers around the world, you are doing a great service to your country."
In addition to being the first returned Peace Corps Volunteer to serve as an astronaut, Acaba is the first person of Puerto Rican heritage to serve as an astronaut. In addition to proudly carrying the flag of Puerto Rico with him in space, he also flew a Peace Corps flag aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery.
Before serving as a Volunteer, Acaba studied geology and earned a Bachelor's degree from the University of California at Santa Barbara and a Master's degree from the University of Arizona.
Acaba was named as a NASA astronaut candidate in May 2004. Nearly five years later, in March 2009, he performed a spacewalk as mission specialist educator aboard Space Shuttle Discovery’s STS-119. His mission successfully delivered the final pair of power generating solar array wings and truss element to the International Space Station.
Last updated Nov 20 2013