On June 4, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin aerospace company completed its fifth human-crewed spaceflight. Of the six people making up the astronaut crew, one was a woman making history: Katya Echazarreta, an electrical engineer born in Guadalajara, Mexico, became the first Mexican-born woman to travel to space.
Echazarreta, 26, worked as a flight engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Her experience includes five NASA missions, including the Perseverance rover and Europa Clipper missions. Echazerreta received her bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from UCLA and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in electrical engineering at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
Blue Origin announced the crew on Twitter on May 9, and @katvoltage shared it on her own feed.
AHHH!!!! The news is finally out! I will be flying with @blueorigin 🚀 As a @SpaceHumanity Ambassador! https://t.co/jJbxZF6lJ0
— Dr. Kat Echazarreta (@katvoltage) May 9, 2022
On another post that went out the day of launch, @blueorigin tweeted that Echazarreta’s mission is to “provide representation for women and minorities in #STEM fields.”
.@katvoltage’s mission is to provide representation for women and minorities in #STEM fields. Her seat is sponsored by @SpaceHumanity, whose mission is to expand access to space. After #NS21, she will become the first Mexican-born woman and the youngest American to fly to space. pic.twitter.com/CkTTOSordo
— Blue Origin (@blueorigin) June 4, 2022
The team blasted off in west Texas on the New Shepard rocket for a 10-minute trip. The flight reached the edge of space in five minutes before parachuting into the desert near Van Horn, Texas.
The nonprofit Space for Humanity sponsored Echazarreta’s flight. She was selected from more than 7,000 applicants in more than 100 countries.
“I daydreamed about the possibility, but when it comes to something like this, you don’t really expect to be the one,” she said in an Instagram post shared by @spacehumanity.
After the flight was over, the organization shared the text of a note Echazarreta wrote to thank them for their sponsorship, which read in part, “The planet we all live on is so beautiful. Every time I close my eyes … I can see it. It’s etched into my memory … I want to thank every single one of you who made this happen. I promise I will make the most of it not only for me but for you. ”
… I want to thank every single one of you who made this happen. I promise I will make the most of it not only for me but for you.
I believe in this mission now more than ever. Let’s continue to allow more access to Space, for Earth. 🌎
– Katya pic.twitter.com/qQNkwGwn1P
— Space for Humanity (@SpaceHumanity) June 7, 2022
Echazarreta is also a TV host and has been documenting her experience a bit on social media. She is passionate about her community and women, particularly women from Latin America.
“What I want you to know is that you belong here too,” she said in a statement for Space for Humanity. “You deserve this too. You can make it too. I believe that this new era is about opening new doors and holding them open for those who will come after us. “