ALAMEDA -- A former astronaut will visit the USS Hornet museum on Saturday to help commemorate the role the aircraft carrier played in the Apollo lunar landings.
Jose Hernandez traveled aboard Space Shuttle Discovery and visited the International Space Station during August and September 2009.
Hernandez and his fellow astronauts orbited the Earth 217 times, traveling more than 5.7 million miles in 332 hours and 53 minutes before their mission ended at Edwards Air Force Base.
Along with a talk by Hernandez, the event Saturday will feature interactive robot demonstrations and games for children hosted by the NASA Ames Research Center.
Hernandez grew up in a family of migrant farm workers and said he was inspired to become an astronaut by Franklin Chang Diaz, the first Latino to fly into space. He applied 12 times before NASA accepted him for astronaut training.
Before joining NASA, Hernandez worked at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, where he helped develop technology that aids in the early detection of breast cancer.
Hernandez, a Democrat, is currently challenging Republican Jeff Denham for the District 10 Congressional seat, which covers Stanislaus and south San Joaquin counties.
The USS Hornet saw fierce action in the Pacific during World War II before it served as the prime recovery ship for both Apollo 11 in July 1969 -- the first lunar landing -- and for Apollo 12 the following November.
This month marks the 43rd anniversary of Apollo 11.
Other activities Saturday include a brief talk by Hornet trustee Robert Fish on last fall's presentation of the Congressional Gold Medal to the Apollo 11 crew in Washington, D.C. Fish has a written a book about the role that the Hornet played in the recoveries and was a guest at the presentation.
The museum opens at 10 a.m. Hernandez will speak at 1 p.m.
The USS Hornet is located at 707 W Hornet Ave, Pier 3 in Alameda. For information, go to www.uss-hornet.org or call 510-521-8448.
Reach Peter Hegarty at 510-748-1654 or follow him on Twitter.com/Peter_Hegarty/.