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UC Merced to host José Hernández for ‘A Million Miles Away’ screening
A Million Miles Away
“A Million Miles Away” tells the story of Valley native José Hernández, who is a former NASA astronaut and current UC Regent (Photo contributed).

The University of California, Merced will hold a special film screening of “A Million Miles Away” at 6:30 p.m. Monday in the Lakireddy Auditorium. The film tells the story of UC Regent and former NASA astronaut José Hernández, who will offer brief remarks prior to the screening.

Michael Peña plays Hernandez in the Amazon Studios movie that was released on Sept. 15.

Hernandez was born to migrant farmworkers from Mexico and is a native of Stockton.

Jose hernandez
José Hernández

After graduating from Franklin High in Stockton, he earned an engineering degree from the University of the Pacific and a master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

While working at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Hernandez, along with a colleague, developed the first full-field digital mammography imaging system.

In 2001, Hernández joined the Johnson Space Center, in Houston, Texas.

In May 2007, Hernández served as an aquanaut during the NEEMO 12 mission aboard the Aquarius underwater laboratory, living and working underwater for eleven days.

Hernández was chosen as a mission specialist on the STS-128 mission, which launched on Aug. 28, 2009. While in orbit, Hernández became the first person to use the Spanish language in space while tweeting. The STS-128 mission ended its 14-day journey on Sept. 11, 2009.

In 2012, Hernandez ran for Congress as a Democrat in California’s 10th Congressional District. He lost to incumbent Republican Jeff Denham.

Hernández owns a 20 acre vineyard near Lodi and in 2021 began bottling wine under the Tierra Luna Cellars label.