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Astronaut sweetly reassures child who threw out space-themed shirts after classmates made fun of him

‘Even when my friends said it was a silly idea, I just kept going forward and forward and forward,’ astronaut Jose Hernandez says on TikTok

Amber Raiken
New York
Wednesday 21 February 2024 22:31 GMT
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Related: Artemis 1 is Going back to the moon

An astronaut sweetly offered words of wisdom to a six-year-old child who was bullied by his classmates for wearing space-themed shirts.

The astronaut, José Hernandez, shared his candid advice in a recent video posted to his daughter Vanessa’s TikTok. The clip started with a video posted by a woman named Meg, who could be seen hugging her younger brother after he was teased at school.

“Just me crying because my six-year-old brother came home from school and threw away all his shirts with outer space, [and] shirts with astronauts and planets on them, because some kids keep calling them stupid,” Meg wrote in the text over her video.

In Vanessa’s clip, her father then stepped in, introducing himself as “astronaut José  Hernandez”. While wearing his blue astronaut suit, which had his name and the “Nasa” logo on it, he encouraged the six year old to keep wearing his astronaut-themed clothes. Hernandez also opened up about the scrutiny he faced when he was younger for being interested in space.

“I wanna tell you to still keep wearing your clothes that have space, rockets, and planets,” he said. “If I would have listened to my friends when I told them I wanted to be an astronaut and they said it was a dumb idea, I would have never been able to wear this flight suit and go up into space.”

He then described some of the career opportunities he’s had, noting that he flew on the Space Shuttle Discovery, a retired American aircraft, to the International Space Station for “14 days on a mission”. Hernandez also recalled that while it was difficult for him to reach this milestone, he was still determined to do so.

“It took me 12 attempts,” he said about reaching the International Space Station. “But I never gave up. Even when my friends said it was a silly idea, I just kept going forward and forward and forward.”

Hernandez once again told the six year old “not to be afraid of wearing [his] space-themed clothes,” before adding: “You should be proud of them.”

He then concluded to the child: “Hopefully, if you study hard, I’ll see you working at Nasa with me.”

The video of Hernandez has quickly gone viral on TikTok, with more than 11m views, as of 21 February. In the comments, many people went on to praise Hernandez’s remarks, while pointing out how social media brought him and the six-year-old boy together.

“This is an A++ human interaction,” Microsoft Education wrote, while another viewer added: “I would literally cry if an astronaut sent me a video hyping me up.”

“This is the sweetest,” someone else wrote, while one viewer added: “As an aerospace engineer, this makes my heart happy.”

While other fans emphasised how much they loved Hernandez, they also pointed out that they recently watched A Million Miles Away, which is about the astronaut’s career. The film – which features Michael Peña as Hernandez – follows the astronaut’s journey towards becoming a crew member on the Space Shuttle mission STS-128.

After Hernandez’s advice went viral, Meg then shared a TikTok video of her six-year-old brother’s response. In the clip, Meg and her brother could be seen watching Hernandez’s video, while the child is seen smiling and laughing.

In the caption, Meg addressed how Hernandez’s video made a difference, writing: “[My brother] got a little silly but he can’t believe a real astronaut saw his video!! Afterwards he said okay maybe I’ll wear my space shirts.”

According to his bio on Nasa, Hernandez was a part of the STS-128 Discovery, which took place from 29 August to 11 September 2009. The occasion was also “the 128th Shuttle mission and the 30th mission to the International Space Station”. In addition, while the crew at the “orbital outpost”, they “rotated an expedition crewmember, attached the Leonardo Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM), and transferred over 18,000 pounds of supplies and equipment to the station”.

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