Real-Life Jose Hernandez & ‘A Million Miles Away’ True Story, Explained: Where Is Jose Now?

In Alejandra Márquez Abella’s latest film, A Million Miles Away, we are invited into the extraordinary life of Jose Hernandez, a former NASA space scientist whose journey started from humble beginnings as the child of a migrant farmworker. His aspirations and dedication led him to embark on an unexpected journey into the world of astronomical science. A Million Miles Away is the inspiring tale of Jose Hernendez’s remarkable life. It delves into the life of an ordinary man who clung to his dreams and never looked back. As we follow Jose’s inspiring journey in the film, his passion, determination, and dedication to his dreams truly touch our hearts. His story reminds us of the incredible human spirit’s ability to aim high and reach the stars, which is quite literal in his case.


Alejandra Márquez Abella has masterfully made a mark in the world of cinema with her previous works like The Good Girls and Northern Skies Over Empty Space. Her distinctive storytelling and unique vision consistently offer a fresh perspective on Latin American narratives, allowing us to throw ourselves into the rich tapestry of Latin American culture and gain profound insights into them. In A Million Miles Away, Alejandra Márquez Abella skillfully captures the essence of migrant farmworkers’ lives, presenting their struggles and aspirations in a truly authentic manner. Her portrayal allows us to connect with these characters on a deep level.

In her latest film, Márquez Abella takes us beyond the surface of Jose Hernandez’s life, delving into the emotional aspect of his character’s journey. It’s truly heartwarming to witness the story of a man who rose from nothing to accomplish an extraordinary feat in astronomical science and secure a respected position at NASA. Another central focus of the narrative is the pivotal role of Adela, Jose’s partner, who evolves into a sacrificing character within the film. Their romantic voyage and mutual support stand out as another significant theme in the storyline. It showcases the profound influence that love and encouragement can wield over someone’s inner strength and encourages them to believe in themselves.


Márquez Abella’s ability to interconnect these emotional threads within a biographical film not only provides a comprehensive view of Jose Hernandez’s life but also depicts a deep personal connection with the human experience for us. The film’s exploration of a person’s commitment to his dreams and his relationships makes A Million Miles Away a profoundly thought-provoking and emotionally resonant cinematic experience. It demonstrates how Márquez Abella’s storytelling prowess brings multifaceted Latin American narratives to the forefront of global cinema.

Who was Jose Hernandez? Where is he now?

Born into a Mexican-American family of migrant farmworkers, Jose Hernandez grew up facing financial challenges and a lack of educational opportunities in his early life. His teachers and loved ones in his family supported him on his journey. As he completed his studies, he even got the bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. He faced severe language barriers, but it couldn’t hold him back. As portrayed in the film, in reality, he faced multiple rejection from NASA, but ultimately in 2004, his hard work paid off. Eventually, in 2009, he achieved his dream as he went on his journey into space boarded on Space Shuttle Discovery on the STS-128 mission.


Staying true to this real-life story, A Million Miles Away takes a very few creative liberties and shows the man’s journey in a remarkable way. This heartwarming film portrays a young boy who grew up as the son of a farmworker with aspirations that reached for the stars. From a humble background, Jose dreamed of exploring the mysteries of the cosmos, and this dream was ignited when his teacher, Ms. Young, encouraged him to believe in his own potential to achieve greatness. Young noticed something extraordinary in Jose, leading her to approach his parents. She believed in nurturing his talents and giving him the opportunity to spread his wings in education.

When Jose painted a corn cob resembling a rocket and shared it with Young, she recognized the dreams in the young boy’s eyes and kept the painting to herself. As Jose grew up, achieved his degree, and became an engineer, his wife, Adela, stood by him. She even sacrificed her own dream of becoming a chef and opening a restaurant of her own. But she was immensely in love with her husband, and she kept faith in him. She believed that Jose’s success would bring her back more than she had lost in the journey. The pivotal moment in Jose’s life came when he was selected to join NASA, a turning point in his life that proved his commitment to his dreams. But not only was Jose a hard-working, ambitious individual, but he was also a loving and faithful husband to his wife. To sacrifice her honor and sacrifices, Jose later opened a restaurant for Adela, demonstrating his deep understanding of the value of dreams and the importance of supporting loved ones in their pursuits.


During his time at NASA, Jose had the privilege of meeting the remarkable Indian-origin astronaut Kalpana Chawla, whose story and achievements served as another source of inspiration for him. However, the tragic Space Shuttle Columbia disaster claimed Kalpana’s life, leaving Jose and many others deeply shaken. Jose’s selection for the STS-128 expedition was a moment of immense pride for his parents, but it also meant a period of anxiety because Adela had a constant fear of losing her husband. However, she didn’t back off from encouraging him, and she prayed fervently for his safety. When Jose finally returned from his mission, it marked a new chapter in their lives, filled with renewed hope and possibilities.

As A Million Miles Away ends, it revealed the remarkable humility of the renowned space scientist. Despite his fame, he remains deeply grounded in his roots. Today, he resides in Stockton, California, far from the corporate hustle and bustle, dedicating himself to his aerospace consulting company. What’s truly heartwarming is that he continues to engage himself in the tradition of grape harvesting alongside his father. They’ve also crafted their own brand of wine, Tierra Luna Cellars. His story, as depicted in A Million Miles Away, reminds us that dreams, no matter how distant they may seem, are worth pursuing, and that the pursuit of those dreams can bring about incredible transformations in one’s life and the lives of those around them.


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Poulami Nanda
Poulami Nanda
Poulami Nanda hails from a medical background, yet her journey is to cross the boundaries of medicine and survive in the cinematic world. The surrealistic beauty of cinema and art has attracted her from a very young age. She loves to write poems, songs, and stories, but her dream is to write films someday. She has also worked as a painter, but nothing attracts her more than cinema. Through her writings, she wants to explore the world of cinema more and more and take her readers on the same ride.

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