Jose Hernandez is a former farmer who managed to beat the odds and make his dreams of becoming an astronaut come true. Now, he’s encouraging kids to never give up on their own dreams, no matter what happens.
Former NASA astronaut Hernandez spent most of his childhood working the fields, picking fruits and vegetables with his family.
“We spent nine months in California, three months in Mexico, but those nine months I went to three different school districts,” he told ABC7.
Hernandez did not learn to speak English until he was 12 years-old, but science and math were always subjects that spoke to him.
“I gravitated towards math because 1 + 3 is 4 in any language,” he recalled.
Hernandez was only 10 years-old when he told his dad that he wanted to be an astronaut. His father encouraged him to make his dream come true immediately, laying out a five-step plan towards success for him. The first two steps were to set a goal and then recognize how far you are from this goal.
“The third thing is you have to draw yourself a road map to know where you’re at to where you want to go,” Hernandez continued. “And then I asked what’s the fourth? He said you’ve got to get an education.”
The fifth and final ingredient was hard work, and it sure took a whole lot of that to make this dream a reality.
“NASA rejected me not once, not twice, not three times but 11 times. It wasn’t until the 12th time that I got selected,” Hernandez explained.
In 2009, Hernandez finally achieved his goal when he blasted off with the crew of the Space Shuttle Discovery in 2009.
“It’s a ride that even Disneyland would be envious of because you go from zero to 17,500 miles an hour in eight and a half minutes,” he recounted.
Hernandez spent fourteen days in space on a mission that covered 5.4 million miles. Getting to work on the International Space Station was an experience he’ll never forget.
“I wish we had a frequent flyer program,” he said with a laugh.
Though Hernandez circled the globe 217 times on this trip, he is still a down to earth person who loves telling young people how they can make their dreams a reality.
“Hard work and perseverance and not being afraid to dream big,” he said.
Netflix is scheduled to begin production of a movie about Hernandez’s life later this year. That will definitely be a film that is worth seeing!