Katya Echazarreta: the admirable path of the first Mexican to reach space


“I dedicate this flight to you, Mexico.”

That is the phrase that Katya Echazarreta wrote before boarding this Saturday the capsule that would take her to become the first woman mexican to get to space.

At 26 years old and with dual nationality, he is also the youngest american to overcome the Earth’s atmosphere.

But the affection that the young engineer has for her country of birth is special.

“I do it for you,” said Echazarreta in a video chat with journalist Laura García, from BBC Mundo.

“I want you to see my story, to see everything I have done and know that if you have this dream, that if you want to do the same as me, you can,” he said before his trip.

The goal she had since she was a little girl was achieved this Saturday by traveling at more than 3,200 km/h and overcome the 100 km highitude where space begins in the New Shepard rocket of the company Blue Origin.

“Everyone told me that this was a children’s dream, that it was not going to happen, that it was impossible. That I should focus on something more ‘serious’”, said Echazarreta.

“When a girl tells someone, there will be no excuse, because it’s over, I’ve done it, and they can too.”

“Use my experience as that sign you needed“.

little katya

Ever since she was a child, Katya Echazarreta has set her sights on the sky.

The young woman remembers that she was 6 years old and was with her mother waiting for a bus when she knew that space would be her goal.

“I remember that moment a lot. We were alone and I turned to the sky and then to her to ask her: what is the most difficult race that someone can have?”, Echazarreta tells BBC Mundo.

“He told me: ‘That depends, but for you, I think being an astronaut’. And I remember that I told him ‘Okay, that’s what I’m going to be’“.

For Echazarreta, that moment when she was a child and knew that she wanted to be an astronaut is very special.

Echazarreta was born in the Mexican city of Guadalajara and at the age of 7 he moved with his family to the US border, between Tijuana and San Diego, where he finally settled.

Like other migrants, nostalgia for their loved ones was important in following their dream.

“We spent many, many years in San Diego. But it was especially difficult for my family, for my parents and my brothers, be so far and not being able to see grandparents, uncles, cousins. We were the only ones in America,” she recalls.

“For me, that connection we have with the sky, the stars, space is very important, because it helped me a lot to know that, although we were very far away, at least we could both go out and see the moon, see the stars, and that we were seeing something very similar.

The engineer Echazarreta

Since his school days, he focused his effort and dedication towards the space race.

Study electric engineering at a community college and then continued at the prestigious University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).

He continued as an intern at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) at NASA where he was offered a full-time position.

The launch of the Blue Shepard rocket

Echazarreta’s was the fifth Blue Origin manned flight, the space tourism firm of tycoon Jeff Bezos.

Getting there was not easy: “We had no money, we had nowhere to live, I was the only one who had a job. My parents had just separated,” she explains.

“The only thing that helped me get ahead and continue was knowing that the Universe is so big and we are so small. We are on this planet and we are so small. All the good and bad things that have happened are on this planet. Y Although something seems big or impossible, when you see it from that perspective it is very small“.

It was in 2019 that he became interested in a program of the non-profit organization Space for Humanity (S4H) to take ordinary people into space to experience the so-called “perspective effect”.

called in english overview effectis a change of consciousness that astronauts have experienced when contemplating the planet from space and that inspires them to seek solutions to the problems of humanity.

“I applied in 2019 with no response, nothing, nothing, nothing, for a year. And then they sent me an email that I was a semifinalist, ”explains Echazarreta.

Katya Echazarreta, Evan Dick, Hamish Harding, Victor Correa Hespanha, Jaison Robinson and Victor Vescovo

Blue Origin
In addition to Katya Echazarreta, Evan Dick, Hamish Harding, Victor Correa Hespanha, Jaison Robinson and Victor Vescovo were the other crew members of the capsule.

She thought that it was unlikely, that she was only one among hundreds or thousands, but the list was shortened: the young woman was the chosen from 7,000 applicants and he is the first person to get a ticket to space through S4H, which is funded by the other people (many of them entrepreneurs) who have booked a seat in Blue Origin’s capsules.

“After answering the last question was when they gave me the news. I started to cry and the first thing I said was something about my mom,” explains the young woman.

The emotional reaction of both to receiving the news has been a unique moment.

“Use my experience”

Flying into space requires a good training

The young Mexican had already experienced tests of g-force, microgravity, oxygen loss and how to react to critical situations.

“Yes, it is very heavy and yes, it is very difficult,” he acknowledges.

But keep in mind what the ultimate goal is It is what has led her to get ahead.

“I have always, always, always wanted to go to space,” he tells BBC Mundo.

The capsule on landing

The crew successfully landed after a 10-minute mission.

“The number one reason for me is that space has always helped me with everything. It is something that has always been constant for me, during my most difficult moments. I feel a connection with outer space which is the end of the cycle to be able to see it with my own eyes”.

And beyond your personal fulfillment, Echazarreta seeks that no one, especially girls and women, feel that they have some limit to their dreams just because someone else tells you..

That is why he tells them: “If you have this dream, that if you want to do the same as me, you can.”

“Use my experience as that sign you needed to move on. You can!”.

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