The US-Mexico border is a popular topic of debate, especially with president Donald Trump’s determination to have it built, despite the cost and other logistics. But fellow Chicano and astronaut, José Moreno Hernández, wants to share his perspective on the border that he learned while floating up in space.
Although it’s been more than a decade since he went up into space, Hernández learned a valuable lesson that's relevant today.
“We were flying over North America and you can tell Canada, the United States, and Mexico [are] there, but what struck me as something of beauty was that you couldn’t tell where Canada ended and the US began, or where the US ended and Mexico began,” he told Now This.
“I had to leave this world to come to the conclusion that borders are a human-made concept. How sad in the state that we live in right now, given the fact that we really are just one.”
Although he grew up farming with his Mexican migrant family, he was always encouraged to strive for more, regardless of his background.
The 54-year-old decided he wanted to become an astronaut at the age of 10. ”We were watching on TV the very last Apollo mission,” he said. “It was Apollo 17. Just mesmerizing. I said, ‘I want to be astronaut.’ And the next best thing I could've done was to share that dream with my father. He looked at me and said, ‘I think you can do it.’”
Despite his passion to become an astronaut, he was rejected by NASA 11 times. “I was 42 when I got selected,” he said. “I started applying when I was 30."
Instead of giving up, Hernández looked at himself analytically and knew he had to become more well-rounded. "After about six rejections, I finally said I’m doing something wrong,” he said.
He realized people picked by NASA were pilots so he became one as well. When the US and Russia agreed to build the International Space Station together, Hernández learned Russian, which caught the attention of NASA.