“It’s hard to breathe, you feel uncomfortable, but then you’re floating,” says José Hernández, a NASA astronaut about living in the International Space Station for several years. “It’s a ride even Disneyland would be jealous of.”
Living in space for many is a dream, but for the Mexican-born Hernandez who moved to Stockton, CA at only 12 years old with his family, it was a lifelong plan – not just a dream.
It was a plan that was born at a particular moment in his life, when he was a 10-year-old boy adjusting a TV antenna at home to improve reception so he could watch Eugene A. Cernan, the commander of the Apollo 17 lunar-landing mission in 1972.
The empowerment from his parents, with values like perseverance, was the most important motivation for Hernandez while growing up: “My father had the wisdom to sit me in the kitchen and give me a five-ingredient recipe,” he told CNN.
The tips he got from his father are re-told in his book, El niño que tocó las estrellas.
-Define your goal
-Recognize how far you are from it
-Create a route or a map to get there
-Focus on your education
-And…lots of perseverance
Besides focusing on his tasks as an engineer in space, the first thing he wanted to see was planet earth from a perspective that only 500 people have ever seen. He recalls his favorite memory is getting in a Superman position and looking at the U.S., Canada, and Mexico as one same land, without borders, without dividers: “From up there, we are only one,” he said.