José Hernández reflected on his journey as the first migrant farm worker to be launched into space ahead of the release of "A Million Miles Away," the movie inspired by his historic flight. "Who better to leave this planet and dive into the unknown than a migrant farm worker?" Michael Peña, who portrays Hernández, asks in the film's most memorable line. Hernández said that quote summed up his journey to space perfectly. "Because both activities, someone who comes from a different country, not knowing the language, not knowing how it's going to be here, they take that risk," Hernández told Fox News Digital. "They take that risk with their family to do so…. as astronauts do. Going up into space is not trivial. And we've lost three vehicles. We've lost Columbia, Challenger and Apollo One in the process. And so, yeah, it comes with risks. And I think that was a great line that summed the whole movie up." From writer and director Alejandra Márquez Abella, "A Million Miles Away" follows Hernández and his devoted family of migrant farm workers as he realizes his dream to become a NASA flight engineer. HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH: JOSE HERNANDEZ, FROM FIELD WORKER TO NASA ASTRONAUT Hernández grew up in a rural village in Michoacán, Mexico, and for years worked with his family picking fruits and vegetables in the fields of the San Joaquin Valley and Stockton, Califonia. But he always had NASA on the brain. After 11 failed attempts, Hernández was finally accepted into the space program on his 12th try and joined the 2004 astronaut candidate class. A few years later, in August 2009, he accomplished his lifelong dream of becoming an STS-128 mission specialist on the space shuttle Discovery. Asked to describe what kept him motivated throughout all the "nos" from NASA, Hernandez said he learned to enjoy the process. He picked up several skills after each application that he said weren't for naught. "I think I would have kept going," Hernández said. "No one likes rejection, right. And I don't like rejection, of course. But the fact was… when we've set a big goal for ourselves, we have to enjoy the journey because that's about 80, 90% of your time and effort. And if you're not enjoying the journey, chances are you picked the wrong goal for yourself." NASA SPACECRAFT MAKES FIRST EARTH FLYBY AFTER 17-YEAR JOURNEY "And so the fact that I was vying to become an astronaut motivated me to go to college, to graduate school, to work in a premier research facility, become a pilot, I learned a third language, scuba diving," he continued. "All these things were helping my regular career. So each time I got rejected, I would look back, and I said, ‘You know, if I never get selected, the consolation prize is not so bad. I'm enjoying what I'm doing, and I'm okay with that.' So you got to have that passion. But you also can't be 100% fixated on your goal because you've got to live life along the process. And that's what I was doing." Another factor that could have turned Hernández away from his dreams for space was the Columbia shuttle tragedy. On February 1, 2003, Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated as it reentered the atmosphere over Texas and Louisiana. All seven astronauts on board perished. The disaster impacted Hernández both professionally and personally, as some of the Columbia crew members were his friends. RED PLANET BREAKTHROUGH: NASA GENERATES ENOUGH OXYGEN ON MARS TO KEEP SMALL DOG ALIVE FOR 10 HOURS Still, he didn't let fear stop him from his mission. "It impacted me personally because I knew the people on that ship," he said. "And of course, you hate to lose your colleagues. Now, from a professional perspective, it sort of, you know, people said, 'Did you get scared as a result, and you didn't want to do it?' No, I think it sort of made you more... You said, 'We got to keep going forward. We can't let this setback end the space program. We got to keep moving forward, and it's to honor them.'" He described feeling a sense of security knowing that so many dedicated people on the ground paved for the way for his flight. "When we go off and blast off into space, you only see the seven or so astronauts get on a rocket, and they blast off," he explained. "But underneath those seven astronauts are tens of thousands of dedicated people that make that moment possible. And having worked hand-in-hand with these folks at NASA, you see their dedication because a lot of them can work out in industry for a lot more money. But they choose to be there because they love what they're doing, and they're dedicated. And so when it was my turn to get on the ship, was I a little scared? Yeah... I'm human, too. But did I have that peace of mind that everyone on the ground have done their jobs to ensure our security? Our safety? Yeah. I was very at peace with myself." And as for the out of this world sightseeing on his trip to the International Space Station, Hernandez said it was worth the wait. "It's worth it because it's surreal up there," he said. "The floating, it's so unnatural that you feel like a superhero. You could push yourself, propel yourself from the wall and do your best Superman impersonation. And it's just amazing. And then looking at our Earth… you think about it, there's a little over 500 people that have had the privilege of looking at our Earth from a very unique perspective from the outside. And you're in that exclusive club and the Earth has over 7 billion people and you're one of a little over 500 that are in that club. So you feel very blessed that you've had that opportunity." "A Million Miles Away" is streaming on Amazon Prime September 15. For more Culture, Media, Education, Opinion, and channel coverage, visit foxnews.com/media
13 Eylül 2023 - 13:10
Astronaut José Hernández got rejected by NASA 11 times before becoming first migrant worker in space
Astronaut José Hernández shares his inspiring journey as a migrant farm worker who persevered through rejection to become a NASA flight engineer.
13 Eylül 2023 - 13:10