NASA’s Joe Acaba to Serve as Agency’s Chief Astronaut
NASA has appointed 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.
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.
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.
A veteran of three spaceflights, Acaba was born in Inglewood, California. He earned a bachelor’s degree in geology at the University of California in Santa Barbara, one master’s degree in geology from the University of Arizona, and one in education, curriculum, and instruction from Texas Tech University. Before his selection as an astronaut candidate in 2004, Acaba spent time in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves and the Peace Corps, worked as a hydrogeologist, and taught high school and middle school.
Acaba spent 306 days in space, serving as mission specialist on space shuttle Discovery’s STS-119 mission and as flight engineer aboard the International Space Station for Expeditions 31 and 32 in 2012, as well as Expeditions 53 and 54 in 2017 and 2018. During that time, he took part in three spacewalks building and upgrading the space station and supported the arrival of the first commercial resupply spacecraft, SpaceX’s Dragon, in May 2012. He was aboard the station when its standard crew complement increased from three to six, enabling NASA and its international partners to double the amount of time dedicated to research. Since returning to Earth, he has supported the astronaut office in a number of roles, including director of operations in Russia and chief of the Vehicle Integration Test Office.
Wiseman served as chief astronaut for two years before stepping down on November 14, 2022, to return to the pool of astronauts eligible for flight assignments. Feustel will continue to support the Astronaut Office.
Follow Acaba on Twitter. View Acaba’s complete biography at https://www.nasa.gov/astronauts/biographies/joseph-m-acaba.