After winning an Air Medal, a Navy Achievement Medal, and several other honors for his service as a United States Marine Corps aviator, this Peruvian-born pilot joined NASA's Astronaut Corps and participated in a 1997 mission aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis and a 2000 mission aboard the Endeavour.
After earning a computer science degree from the University of Southern California, he received two master's degrees (in computer science and space systems operations) from the Naval Postgraduate School.
During his time in the United States Marine Corps, he received the military rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
He lived in Lima, Peru until the age of five, at which point he relocated to Santa Clara, California with his parents, Nora and Rodolfo Noriega. With his wife, Wendy Thatcher Noriega, he raised five children.
Though he was slated to participate in NASA's STS-121 mission aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery, he became ill shortly before takeoff and was forced to forfeit his spot to fellow astronaut Piers Sellers.