A Million Miles Away on Amazon Prime tells the story of Jose Hernandez’s rise from California’s farming fields to outer space. Jose’s dreams of becoming an astronaut hatched when he was ten. NASA rejected Jose’s application to join the space program 11 times. On his 12th try, however, he succeeded. 

Jose and his wife, Adela Hernandez, bonded over their shared heritage, values, and dreams

Jose and Adela met courtesy of his sister, Leticia, who frequented the Macy’s department store where Adela worked. [Leticia] kept mentioning her brother,” Adela told Recordnet.com. “It took her a year to convince us to go out.”

Adela and Jose had plenty in common. They were both descendants of Latino farm workers who emigrated from the Mexican State of Michoacan. Both learned English in their pre-teens and helped their families work on farms. “I started working in the fields when I was 14 years old during summer breaks, sorting tomatoes, working at a packing shed,” Adela said. 

Adela studied at San Joaquin Delta College and dreamed of owning a restaurant. Jose worked as an engineer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. As depicted in the film, Adela laughed when Jose told her he wanted to become an astronaut. 

“She did it in a very loving way,” Hernandez talked to USA Today about Adela’s reaction. “She didn’t expect that I was going to give her that answer and I did, and then we never talked about it again until later on in life when we were married.”

Jose and Adela’s courtship was slightly hindered by her father’s rules. “I couldn’t say, ‘Oh let’s go out to dinner at a restaurant.’ No, if I was going to see her I had to court there in her house and her dad had to be present,” Jose explained. 

Regardless, the couple’s relationship progressed. They were married on 30th May 1992 in Lodi, California. 

Jose, Adela, and their five children moved to Lodi, California, after he retired from NASA in 2011

Jose and Adela welcomed five children: Julio, Karina, Vanessa, Yesenia, and Antonio. In a 2009 interview with Recordnet.com, Adela described Jose as a doting father. “All the children are extremely close to their dad,” Adela stated. “Jose may spend a whole day with the kids. He takes the girls to the mall. They’re daddy’s little girls still.”

“We always (say) family is first. We just try to stay very close,” Adela added. At the time, Adela ran a restaurant near the Johnson Space Centre dubbed the Tierra Luna Grill. Astronauts and NASA engineers frequented her eatery. 

As Jose’s long-awaited trip to space drew nearer, Adela struggled to remain calm. She explained: “It’s so hard to express what you’re feeling. I’m trying to prepare myself mentally. I know, hopefully, everything will be OK and he will have a safe trip.”

Both Adela and Jose achieved the dreams they had when they started dating: Jose was an astronaut with a successful space mission on his portfolio, and Adela ran a successful restaurant. After Jose retired in 2011, Adela closed the Tierra Luna Grill. The couple left Johnson Space Centre and returned to their California homeland.