MEXICO CITY – A NASA astronaut says he wants to help Mexican officials start the country's first space agency.

Astronaut Jose Hernandez says he has no plans to leave his job at NASA, but hopes to help Mexico's program get off the ground.

Hernandez, the U.S.-born son of Mexican migrant farm workers who spent much of his childhood moving between Mexico and the U.S., lobbied for a space program in meetings with Mexican lawmakers Tuesday.

He says officials must invest more money in science, technology and education to make Mexico more competitive and diversify its economy.

Legislators have set aside 10 million pesos ($775,000) for the Mexican Space Agency in next year's budget, but the program has not yet been officially established.