Texas Tech University

College of Education alumnus selected for NASA's Artemis moon-landing program

Robert Stein

December 11, 2020

Joseph Acaba, who earned a master’s degree in 2015 from the Curriculum and Instruction program, was one of 18 astronauts selected for the team.

A Texas Tech University alumnus could be the next man – and the first Hispanic person – to walk on the moon.

Joseph Acaba, a graduate of the Texas Tech College of Education and a former science teacher, was among the 18 astronauts selected to train for NASA's Artemis moon-landing program. Vice President Mike Pence announced the elite group of astronauts on Wednesday (Dec. 9).

Acaba earned a Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Curriculum and Instruction from the College of Education in 2015. Before being selected as a NASA mission specialist in May 2004, he taught high school science and middle school mathematics and science in Florida.

Joseph Acaba
Joseph Acaba | Photo courtesy of NASA

"I did a lot of different jobs until I found the one that I felt was the most important job on the planet, which is being a school teacher," he said in a video introduction for the Artemis Team. "It was one of the jobs I never thought I would leave, until I was given this opportunity to become a NASA astronaut."

Acaba made history as the first person of Puerto Rican descent to be selected to become a NASA astronaut. He completed astronaut training in February 2006 and has flown into space three times, spending 306 days in orbit and performing three spacewalks.

"To actually walk on the moon – for me to have that as a possibility is just incredible," he said.

In addition to his master's degree from Texas Tech, Acaba holds degrees in geology and worked as a hydro-geologist in Los Angeles, primarily on Superfund sites, and was involved in the assessment and remediation of groundwater contaminants. Acaba also was a member of the U.S. Marine Corps Forces Reserve and spent two years in the U.S. Peace Corps as an Environmental Education Awareness Promoter in the Dominican Republic.