2005 Inductee - José Hernández


2005 Inductee - José Hernández

Jose Hernandez shows how much Mexican Americans have progressed in the last 40 years. It was a joke when Jose Jimenez portrayed a Mexican astronaut on the Ed Sullivan Show in the 1960’s. When Jose Hernandez flies on the next space mission, the only challenge left for Mexican Americans will be to become the President of the United States.

“This (becoming an astronaut) was the ultimate goal. I am very excited and very honored to be selected. This is something I’ve wanted since I was a kid.” There are only 11 in the 2004 Astronaut Candidate class.

Jose’s training began June 14 at the NASA Space Center. Then he will go to Pensacola, Florida for water survival training, flight training and weightlessness training. Possible space missions are a shuttle flight service aboard the international space station and a visit to the moon. Although the shuttle program may be cancelled, there is much talk about a NASA presence on the moon.

Jose Hernandez has been with the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, NASA since 2001. He is a Mission Specialist. He has earned the NASA Service Awards in 2002 and 2003. He was at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory from 1987 to 2001. He is remembered for his work on digital mammography, the x-ray laser program the Materials Protection, Control and Accountability Program. He was selected for the “Outstanding Engineer Award” in 2001. Jose has also been honored by the Society of Mexican American Engineers and Scientists with the “Medalla de Oro” for professional and community contributions in 1999. He was also the society’s National President from 2002 to 2004.

He earned a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from UOP in 1984 and a M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from UC Santa Barbara in 1986, but his first academic success was at Franklin High School. He was in La Academia de Espanol de Franklin, a program run by Sylvia Bello (2004 Inductee) whom he called “an influential teacher in his life.”

A LULAC scholarship helped fund his college expenses. In gratitude Jose has helped LULAC Council 2060 for over 22 years. He has assisted in fundraising events such as bingo. He has served food to the homeless at St. Mary’s Interfaith Dining Hall. He’s been a past chair of the scholarship committee that has raised $555,000 in the last 29 years. He was also the chairman of the Christmas Food Basket Program that has averaged 1,900 baskets in the last two years.

“He has always been an active member; he jumped right in, worked hard and gave it 110%. He has been a role model and an inspiration not only for our youth but also to our adult members.”

During the years 1996-99 he was responsible for the implementation of a U.S. Russian Federation agreement for the purchase of highly enriched uranium created by the dismantlement of Russian nuclear weapons. He had to insure that the uranium did come from nuclear weapons which involved visiting Russian facilities. One of his duties was overseeing a $16 million multi-lab implementation budget and the $6 million annual budget for the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory component.

Jose has also worked with the Department of Energy in Washington D.C. He was the Program Manager of the Office of International Material Protection and Emergency Cooperation in 1999-2001.

Jose’s job before becoming an astronaut was in the Materials and Processes Branch of NASA. From March 2001 to January 2002 he was a Materials Research Engineer. He developed, evaluated and selected advanced structural materials to aircraft and spacecraft structures and their power and propulsion systems. He also conducted research in basic engineering materials and applied general engineering mechanics principles to define material behavior, and he also designed field radiation effects experiments for electronic hardware. From January 2002 to June 2004 he was the Branch Chief in charge of a staff of 30 top professionals and 20 contractors.

It is with great pride and honor that Jose Hernandez be inducted into the Mexican American Hall of Fame 2005.