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Latinos That Are Making History With NASA

Latinos That Are Making History With NASA

Liliana Villarreal, Colombian

Artemis II Landing and Recovery Director

Exploration Ground Systems

Liliana Villarreal currently serves as the Artemis II Landing and Recovery Director in Exploration Ground Systems (EGS) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. She is responsible for leading NASA’s efforts for nominal and contingency recovery of astronauts and Orion hardware for Artemis crew missions. 

Villarreal was born in Cartagena, Colombia, but considers Miami, Florida, to be her hometown. She moved with her family to Florida when she was 10 years old.

She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in aerospace engineering in 1996, and a master’s degree in aerospace engineering in 1997, both from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Villarreal also earned a master’s degree in management of technology in 2002 from the College of Engineering at the University of Miami.

She is the recipient of various awards and recognitions, including a Space Flight Awareness Team Award in 2018, a Group Achievement Award in 2014, an Exceptional Medal of Achievement in 2013, and various certificates of achievement and certificates of commendation. She also received group achievement awards from Johnson Space Center in 2011 and 2009.

Joe Acaba, Puerto Rican 

NASA has selected veteran astronaut Joe Acaba as chief of the Astronaut Office at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. A decorated veteran of multiple spaceflights, as well as a former U.S. Marine and former educator, Acaba is the first person of Hispanic heritage selected to lead the office.

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Acaba takes the place of NASA astronaut Drew Feustel, who spent two years as deputy chief and has been acting chief of the office since NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman left the post late last year.

“Congratulations to Joe Acaba on being named the new chief of the astronaut office! Joe is an experienced space flyer and a proven leader, and he will undoubtedly inspire the next generation of NASA astronauts. As we build on the International Space Station’s unparalleled success in low-Earth orbit with our eyes on the Moon and then Mars, Joe will play an integral role in ensuring our NASA astronauts are prepared for the challenges ahead,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “I also want to thank Reid Wiseman for his steady leadership, and to Drew Feustel for jumping in to continue the office’s long legacy of excellence and integrity.”

In his new role, Acaba will be responsible for managing astronaut resources and operations. He also will help develop astronaut flight crew operation concepts and make crew assignments for future spaceflight missions, including astronauts assigned to fly on Artemis missions.

By: La Isla Magazine

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