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Lodi-area astronaut Jose Hernandez full of stories about space

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Posted: Sunday, September 13, 2009 10:00 pm

Did you know that blasting off in a rocket ship at Cape Canaveral, Fla., feels quite normal?

Well, it does for the first five minutes, according to Lodi-area astronaut Jose Hernandez, who returned to Earth on Friday night after two weeks in space.

After five minutes in the air, it gets a little uncomfortable.

"It felt like someone was pressing my chest," Hernandez said in a phone interview with the News-Sentinel on Sunday from his home in Houston. "It was getting harder and harder to inhale and exhale, like someone sitting on your chest."

That's due to the change in the gravitational pull, also known as Gs.

Hernandez explained that 1G is normal gravity on Earth, 2G is twice your weight, 3G is three times your weight and 4G is four times your weight. Gravity went as high as 4G after the five-minute mark. After eight-and-a-half minutes, it plummeted to zero, or weightlessness.

"You were glad the main engine went off," Hernandez said. "Everything was very nice after that."

Hernandez, 47, who landed safely with six other astronauts Friday night at Edwards Air Force Base in the Mojave Desert, spent the weekend relaxing with his parents and a brother at his home in Houston. He's getting reaccustomed to the Earth's gravity, which caused him to have poor balance for four to five hours after landing.

He had gotten used to "zero G," or no gravity, while in space. Now he has to readjust to 1G gravity, which we take for granted on Earth.

In fact, Hernandez won't be allowed to drive until he takes a medical examination at 10 a.m. CDT today.

Hernandez discussed several other highlights to his 5.7-million-mile flight in space on Sunday. They include:

  • Seeing large cities like New York, London and Paris at night.
  • Appreciating how delicate the Earth really is.
  • The excitement of seeing thunderstorms from space.
  • How smoothly the flight went.
  • What he'll be doing now that he's safely on the ground.

Hernandez said his 14 days in space gave him new appreciation of how beautiful Earth is. If politicians and other world leaders could see the planet from outer space like he did, they would find that war, pollution and climate change would not be issues today because they would see how important it is to preserve Mother Earth, he said.

Hernandez said he saw pollution first-hand by looking at the Amazon River in South America.

"You see the mouth of the Amazon," he said. "You can see pretty much the sediment, the erosion and runoff. You see a cloud of brown at the mouth of the river before you see (the) blue (Atlantic Ocean)."

The astronauts saw mostly the Southern Hemisphere during the day and the Northern Hemisphere at night.

"It was pretty amazing how clear you can see the city lights," Hernandez said.

Another important part of the mission, he said, was how smoothly the flight went.

"Everything worked out great; we're pretty happy," he said. "There were no surprises. Even when we had a few problems, we were well enough trained to take care of anything."

Hernandez and the other six astronauts will spend the next month in a series of debriefing meetings with mechanics, scientists and anyone who had anything to do with the Space Shuttle operation. And of course, it will be full of good news.

Hernandez, who serves on the University of the Pacific's board of regents, said he hopes to return to San Joaquin County in mid-October for the next board meeting. He hopes to spend another three weeks in the Lodi-Stockton area during the holidays.

"We are very impressed," said Hernandez's brother-in-law, Gabriel Corona. "I can't wait to see him in person because I'll have a lot of questions."

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

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  • posted at 3:36 am on Tue, Sep 15, 2009.


    but what about the ufo's

  • posted at 11:52 pm on Mon, Sep 14, 2009.


    P.S.: Listen, Sentinel, Jose belongs to us and you guys in Lodi cannot have him. For God's sake we've been named the 5th Most Miserable City in the U.S. here in Stockton, at least let us have our astronaut!(kidding...we'll share...just don't take him too far into your city limits....keep it on the outskirts.)

  • posted at 11:46 pm on Mon, Sep 14, 2009.


    Yeah, Jose traveling in space is great and all, but I'm dying to hear what it was like to use that $15 million space station toilet! Come on, Jose, give us the details on this important and extremely newsworthy issue.

  • posted at 1:25 pm on Mon, Sep 14, 2009.


    Ross, thanks for your article. I enjoyed it.

  • posted at 1:22 pm on Mon, Sep 14, 2009.


    Jose Hernandez , job well done. What an inspiration to all our kids and grandkids. Hardwork, staying in school, and demanding the best you can be paid off. You, Sir, are amazing. Keep up the great work.

  • posted at 12:56 pm on Mon, Sep 14, 2009.


    Ross-I define that as desparate to call him a Lodian. Are you aware the rest of the media world is referring to him as from Stockton? Maybe because it's true.

  • posted at 12:53 pm on Mon, Sep 14, 2009.


    napa valley chef-Give me a break. He's one of 10,000. For every success story the mexicans have 10,000 stories like the one in Staurdays paper about the shooting in Galt. Please.Besides can you say, "Token"? Can you chef?

  • posted at 12:31 pm on Mon, Sep 14, 2009.


    So where are all the irate, racist bloggers, wondering how this "illegal" got into the U.S. Space Program?

  • Ross Farrow posted at 12:18 pm on Mon, Sep 14, 2009.

    Ross Farrow Posts: 104

    Jose Hernandez grew up mostly in Stockton, but he lived with his parents at one time on Cora Post Road, which is northeast of Highway 99 and Eight Mile Road. His parents still live there. We at the News-Sentinel define the area north of Eight Mile Road as Lodi.

  • posted at 7:03 am on Mon, Sep 14, 2009.


    I bet that he saw alien space ships from up in space and he could have even did experiments with the E.T. technology that the government is covering up

  • posted at 3:45 am on Mon, Sep 14, 2009.


    Well I have family in New York.. am I a New York Area Executive?

  • posted at 1:23 am on Mon, Sep 14, 2009.


    ... and worked in the vineyards in and around Lodi. His family still lives in Acampo, at least according to almost every article I've read in this newspaper about this man. I have a feeling he's been to Lodi a few times!

  • posted at 10:49 pm on Sun, Sep 13, 2009.


    Why do you keep calling him the "Lodi Area Astronaut"? Does he even know where Lodi is? He went to elementary school in French Camp and HS in Stockton, right?



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