José Hernández now: from Astronaut to Tierra Luna Cellars

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A Million Miles Away, the movie released on Amazon Prime Video in September 2023, showed us the true story of a man who did something incredible: born in a Mexican family of farmworkers, José Moreno Hernández wanted to become an astronaut since his childhood and managed with his determination to enter NASA and join a space mission in 2009. The movie does a great job explaining what it took for him to make his dream come true, and people were curious to know what he’s doing now: let’s discover his life after being an astronaut and his Tierra Luna Cellars project.

You can watch the official trailer for A Million Miles Away here on Youtube.

José Hernández now, from Astronaut to the Tierra Luna Cellars: the true story of A Million Miles Away

Yes, the movie A Million Miles Away on Amazon Prime Video is based on the true story of José M Hernández, a Mexican engineer born in a family of farmworkers who became an astronaut and joined a space mission. The movie is based on his autobiography, Reaching for the Stars: The Inspiring Story of a Migrant Farmworker Turned Astronaut, published in 2012.

His childhood, as portrayed in the movie, is authentic: he was a migrant worker with his family, and they used to live half a year in Mexico and the other half in the United States, harvesting crops that his father would later sell. However, his dream was to become an astronaut: he developed it after watching the Apollo 17 mission in 1972, when he was ten years old.

Witnessing José’s talents and aspirations, his parents decided to change life and give their children more stability so they could study regularly. José became an electrical engineer in 1984 and started working in a research center in 1990, where he developed a digital mammography imaging system that helps in the early detection of breast cancer.

Over the years, he applied for NASA’s space program many times, always being rejected. But in 2004, after 11 rejections, he got selected. He started the Astronaut Candidate Training and patiently waited for the right opportunity. In 2008, he was chosen as part of the team going into space for the STS-128 Space Shuttle mission, which launched on August 28, 2009. Below is the photo of the NASA team for that mission: José Hernández is the first one from the left.

The STS-128 crew photo

José Hernández returned to Earth on September 11, 2009, after 14 days in space. After that, he kept working at NASA until his retirement in 2011.

Where is José Hernández now? After his experience at NASA, the former astronaut jumped into another personal project: he founded the Tierra Luna Cellars, a wine company that produces José’s own line of wines. José owns a small vineyard north of Lodi, the city in California where his parents live, and the names of his wines are inspired by Jose’s view of the constellations from space.

You can find Tierra Luna Cellars’ official website here, and here you can read the true story of José Hernández, as portrayed in the movie A Million Miles Away. And for the most curious among you: Tierra Luna is also the actual name of the restaurant his wife ran outside NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Texas, and José Hernández really used to help in the kitchen, when needed.

José Hernández also founded Tierra Luna Engineering, a manufacturing and consulting company oriented to aerospace services. You can follow José Hernández here on Instagram. His bio there contains all the things he is and has been in life: Retired NASA Astronaut, Motivational Speaker, President and CEO of Tierra Luna Engineering, Author, California Farmer.

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