FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has made history by naming veteran astronaut Joseph Acaba as chief of the Johnson Space Center’s Astronaut Office.

Acaba is the first person of Hispanic descent to hold that position. In his new position at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Acaba will be responsible for managing astronaut resources and operations.

Acaba will also be responsible for developing operational concepts for astronaut flight crews and assigning crews for future spaceflight missions, including astronauts assigned to fly Artemis missions.

“As we build on the International Space Station’s unparalleled success in low-Earth orbit with our eyes on the Moon and then Mars, Joe will play an integral role in ensuring our NASA astronauts are prepared for the challenges ahead,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.

Astronaut Joseph Acaba (Credit: NASA)

A veteran of three space flights, Acaba was born in Inglewood where his parents, Ralph and Elsie, moved from Puerto Rico. His mother is originally from San Juan and his father is from Hatillo, a municipality on the north coast of the island, located about 10 miles west of Arecibo.

Acaba attended Esperanza High School in Anaheim and obtained a Bachelor of Science in Geology, at the University of California Santa Barbara as well as graduate studies in Arizona and Texas.

Acaba became the first astronaut of Puerto Rican origin to go into space, after being part of the crew of the STS-199 mission that departed on the Discovery shuttle that left the Kennedy Space Center in Florida for the International Space Station on March 15, 2009.