I’ve been busy this past month, so forgive the delay, but THERE’S A CHICANO IN SPACE!!!
NASA astronaut José Hernández is currently in space on the shuttle Discovery, the second to last mission for the Space Shuttle program. The 13-day trip has the crew docking with the International Space Station, to which they are currently (as of the writing of this article) attached.
Hernández is a former migrant laborer, and he is the first of this distinction in space. The child of Mexican migrants, he and his family lived in both La Piedad, Michoacán as well as various parts of California (primarily Stockton) as they followed “the circuit” (la corrida)–traveling north every March for field work, moving with the crops, and the returning to Mexico in November. Hernández was born here, in California, during one of the family’s labor stops (pun intended).
Agricultural work is a brutal form of labor and, as in the case of the Hernández family, it often involves the children. Of course, the most profound toll on children is the lack of stability “the circuit” provides.
Hernández overcame the educational limits built into his upbringing and, with lots of luck, support, and hard work, is now the first “former-migrant-farm-laborer” in space.
You can read about him and his journey in this article (written in Spanish).
ADD: My apologies. It appears there are currently TWO Chicanos in Space. Hernández is joined by astronaut Danny Olivas as well.