Jose Hernandez had a lot of company while his rocket ship waited for liftoff on Monday night, but thunderstorms forced NASA to postpone the launch.
Thirteen family members were in Cape Canaveral, Fla., waiting to watch the space shuttle Discovery lift off for a 13-day flight. The big moment was originally scheduled for 10:36 p.m. Monday PDT, but has been rescheduled for today.
For Hernandez, blastoff couldn't happen soon enough. Consider what he posted on Twitter at 12:30 p.m. Monday: "Only a few more hours, and we'll be set to blast off into space! What a great feeling!"
He wrote the same thing in Spanish: "Falta unas cuantas horas para el despegue! Que bonito se siente!!!"
For those who use Twitter as a social networking device, Hernandez will send reports in both languages at least daily during the flight.
"I got tickles in my stomach," brother-in-law Gabriel Corona said Monday afternoon. "I'm very excited about Jose."
Corona, 52, has known Hernandez since the future astronaut was 12 or 13 years old. They worked the fields in Lodi and elsewhere in San Joaquin County at the time.
Corona stayed home in southeast Lodi because a stoke he suffered three years ago made it too difficult to take a cross-country flight. But he was at a special party at Hernandez's alma mater, University of the Pacific in Stockton, to watch the space shuttle's planned liftoff.
Even though the planned blastoff was only hours away, Hernandez took the time to phone Corona, who was having a late breakfast in Lodi on Monday with Hernandez's aunt. They were thrilled to see Hernandez's photograph in the News-Sentinel on the news rack. Then Corona's cell phone rang at 12:19 p.m.
"Guess who I got a call from?" Corona said. "It was Jose. He called to say goodbye."
As a youngster, Corona didn't think that Hernandez, now 47, would ever become an astronaut.
"We were working hard in the fields," Corona said. "I worked with him in the fields picking cucumbers. He could barely pick up the bucket (because it was full of mud from irrigation water). He'd sit on his bucket and eat a burrito from the truck."
Hernandez and Corona are examples of their families working hard to get an education and getting out of life as a farmworker.
Corona went to vocational school, learned to be a machinist and worked for the city of Stockton for 25 years. Hernandez became an astronaut.
His family is planning to tour Disney World before returning home to San Joaquin County on Saturday.
'Follow' Hernandez in spaceJose Hernandez will report at least daily on his space flight on Twitter. Twitter is a micro-blogging site where users display updates of no more than 140 characters.
To follow Hernandez's daily comments, visit twitter.com/Astro_Jose.
Additionally, the public will be able to interact with Hernandez about his space flight. NASA has announced that it will accept videos of questions from people about the flight that will be answered by the crew while they are on their mission. Videos can be submitted online at youtube.com/user/ReelNASA.