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(CNN Spanish) --
(CNN Spanish) --
NASA appointed astronaut of Puerto Rican origin Joseph Michael "Joe" Acabá as head of the agency's Johnson Space Center Astronaut Office, as announced Thursday on the official website.
Acabá, a decorated veteran of multiple space flights as well as a former US Marine and former educator, is the first person of Hispanic descent to lead the office, NASA confirmed.
He will replace Drew Feustel, who has been acting head of the bureau since Reid Wiseman stepped down late last year.
Veteran astronaut @AstroAcaba has been named NASA's new chief of astronauts.
Acabá is the first person of Hispanic descent selected to lead the @NASA_Johnson Astronaut Office.
More: https://t.co/dHF2RB716w pic.twitter.com/tLOdx9W1wD
— NASA in Spanish (@NASA_es) February 2, 2023
"Building on the unprecedented success of the International Space Station in low-Earth orbit, and moving forward with its sights set on the Moon and then Mars, Joe will play a critical role in ensuring our astronauts are ready for the challenges that await them," NASA administrator Bill Nelson said, according to the agency's website.
"Our Johnson Space Center team congratulates Joe Acabá on his appointment as Chief of the Astronaut Office. We wish him the best as he takes on this exciting new leadership role," said NASA Johnson Space Center Director , Vanessa Wyche.
"Joe is an excellent leader who brings a wealth of experience to the Astronaut Office," also said NASA Director of Flight Operations Norm Knight, who was in charge of selecting him.
"Knowing the importance of this position and the integrity of those who have previously held it, I am confident that Joe will be an outstanding leader in the Astronaut Office and that he will successfully lead our astronauts into an exciting future."
Joe Acabá will be NASA's chief astronaut (Courtesy NASA)
Indeed, some of Acabá's tasks will be managing astronaut resources and operations, as well as developing operational concepts for flight crews and assigning crews for future spaceflight missions, including astronauts assigned to fly the missions. Artemis, according to NASA.
Who is Joe Acabá
A veteran of three space flights, Acabá was born in Inglewood, California, in 1967. His parents, Ralph and Elsie, still live there.
He received a BS in Geology from the University of California at Santa Barbara, an MS in Geology from the University of Arizona, and an MS in Education, Curriculum and Instruction from Texas Tech University, Lubbock.
Before being selected as a NASA astronaut in 2004, Acabá was in the US Marine Corps Reserve and Peace Corps, worked as a hydrogeologist and taught high school.
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Acabá has spent a total of 306 days in space, serving as a mission specialist on the space shuttle Discovery mission STS-119 and as a flight engineer aboard the International Space Station as part of various expeditions in 2012 and others between 2017-2018.
In 2009, he took his maiden voyage aboard the shuttle Discovery on mission STS-119.
On this occasion she visited the International Space Station and did two walks outside where she assisted in the assembly of solar panels.
In 2012, he returned to space for the second time on a Russian mission with the Soyuz spacecraft, as a flight engineer.
Joseph Acabá dressed in his Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) spacesuit as he prepares to exit the Quest Airlock of the International Space Station in 2009 (Courtesy NASA)
During that time, he participated in three spacewalks to build and upgrade the space station, and assisted with the arrival of the first commercial resupply spacecraft, SpaceX's Dragon, in May 2012.
Acabá was aboard the station when its crew grew from three to six, allowing NASA and its international partners to double the amount of time spent on research.
Since his return to Earth, he has supported the astronaut office in various capacities, including director of Russian operations and head of the Vehicle Integration Test Office.