NASA’s first Cuban American astronaut set to go into space in 2018

Congratulations to Serena Auñón, NASA’s first Cuban American astronaut!

Via Martí Noticias (my translation):

NASA’s first Cuban American astronaut will go to space in 2018

Serena Auñon, NASA's first Cuban American astronaut
Serena Auñon, NASA’s first Cuban American astronaut

Serena Auñón, daughter of a Cuban father, electrical engineer, and a specialist in Aerospace Medicine, will visit the International Space Station in November of next year. Was this a prophecy of Alvarez Guedes?

In an old tale of the late (and sorely missed) Cuban comedian Guillermo Alvarez Guedes about a then imaginary first Cuban American astronaut for NASA, the wife is interviewed as he was orbiting the earth. She was asked when she first noticed that he was going to be an astronaut: “Well, the day before yesterday,” she replied. “The day before yesterday he showed up with two empty tubes of toothpaste and said: ‘Fill one of these up with rice and beans and the other one with picadillo.'”

Alvarez Guedes’ “prophecy” is about to be fulfilled and when NASA’s first real world Cuban American astronaut is asked what her favorite food is, she lists those very same Cuban dishes, “the ones I was raised on, and the same ones my family and I still prepare.” The fundamental difference being that instead of being a man, it is a woman.

Serena María Auñón-Chancellor, the first Cuban American astronaut for NASA will make her first visit to the cosmos when she takes off for the International Space Station from the Baikonur, Kazakhstan space center in November of 2018, according to a press release sent out on Tuesday from the U.S. space agency.

Born in Indianapolis, IN in 1978 to a Cuban father and an American mother, Auñon was selected by NASA from 3,500 candidates to become an astronaut in 2009. Her qualifications include a degree in Electrical Engineering from George Washington University in Washington DC, a Medical Degree from the University of Texas, and a Masters Degree in Public Health from the same university.

She has three sisters. Her father, Jorge Auñon, left Cuba in October of 1960 and worked as a waiter and a store clerk before enrolling in George Washington University and becoming a professor in Electrical Engineering. Later he went on to become the Dean of Engineering school at Texas Tech and afterwards the University of Alabama. He retired in 2005. Her mother, Margaret Auñon, writes mystery novels under the pseudonym Maggie Sefton.

Serena’s dream of becoming an astronaut was born when she saw a launch of the Space Shuttle. “Ever since I was a little girl I wanted to be an astronaut, but I didn’t know what path I needed to take to achieve it,” she told NBC Latino. “I always loved the sciences. Engineering was a good tool because it teaches you to think critically and to solve problems. But my instincts led me to study medicine. I earned my degree in 2001 and went on to do two residencies: internal medicine and aerospace medicine.”

Continue reading (in Spanish) HERE.