Saturday, November 26, 2022

Katya Echazarreta, An Electrical Engineer, is the 1st Mexican-Born and One of the Youngest Women to Fly into Space

Growing up in Guadalajara, Mexico, Katya Echazarreta was often told she would never accomplish her dreams of traveling to space.

“Everyone around me — family, friends, teachers — I just kept hearing the same thing: That’s not for you,” Echazarreta recalled.

Echazarreta, 26, proved everyone wrong on Saturday when she joined an international crew inside the fifth passenger flight by Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos’ space travel company.

She was part of a crew of six people, including Victor Correa Hespanha, the second Brazilian to fly to space. They traveled 100 kilometers above the surface of the Earth and after about 10 minutes of weightlessness, the spacecraft returned to our planet.

The flight was sponsored by the nonprofit Space for Humanity, and it made Echazarreta the first Mexican woman and one of the youngest women to ever fly into space. She was chosen from a diverse applicant pool of more than 7,000 people in more than 100 countries.

More than 600 people have gone to space since Yuri Gagarin’s pioneering flight in 1961, but less than 80 have been women, and fewer than three dozen have been Black, Indigenous, or Latino.

Echazarreta, who is pursuing a master’s degree in electrical engineering after temporarily working at NASA, said people from other cultures or other parts of the world “feel like this isn’t for them, like just because of where they’re from or where they were born, that this is automatically not something that they can dream or have as a goal.”

After this flight, she hopes Mexican parents will no longer tell their young daughters they cannot travel to space. Instead, she said, they’ll have to respond: “You can do it, too.”

NBC News