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Former teacher turns 45 in space

May 18, 2012 at 5:25 PM
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MELBOURNE, Fla., May 18 (UPI) -- A Florida high school teacher who became an astronaut said arriving at the International Space Station was the perfect gift for his birthday.

Joe Acaba, a former teacher at Melbourne High School in Florida, arrived at the ISS aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft Thursday, which was his 45th birthday, Florida Today reported Friday.

"This is the perfect gift," Acaba said. "Dreams are coming true every day up here."

Kirk Shireman, deputy manager of NASA's International Space Station program office, said the agency was happy to help Acaba have a happy birthday.

"Some people get cake and candles, and he gets the whole space station," he said.

Acaba, who became the first person of Puerto Rican heritage to visit space during a March 2009 shuttle mission, is scheduled for a four-month tour of duty alongside Russian cosmonauts Gennady Padalka and Sergei Revin. They are scheduled to return to Earth Sept. 17.

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