By MARK LORENZANA
Katya Echazarreta, an engineer and science communicator from Guadalajara, became the first-ever Mexican-born woman — and one of the youngest women ever — to travel into space. On Saturday, June 4, Echazarreta soared into space aboard a spacecraft of Blue Origin, the American privately funded aerospace manufacturer and spaceflight services company owned by Jeff Bezos, the founder and executive chairman of Amazon.
Echazarreta and five others were able to experience a few minutes of weightlessness while looking out into the ether through the large windows of the spacecraft before safely parachuting back down to earth in a capsule. She later stepped out holding a Mexican flag, which she brought with her on the trip.
The 26-year-old Echazarreta grew up in Guadalajara, Mexico, but later moved to San Diego, California, where she attended San Diego City College and earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. Echazarreta now works as a science educator, and she frequently posts her work on social media, specifically on her TikTok account, where she boasts of more than 330,000 users. She is also a presenter on the weekend CBS science show “Mission Unstoppable.”
While most of the other passengers paid an undisclosed sum for the opportunity to fly to space, Echazarreta was selected by a nonprofit called Space for Humanity to join this mission from a pool of more than 7,000 applicants in more than 100 countries.
Echazarreta previously worked at NASA’s famed Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Los Angeles, California. She is now also currently pursuing a master’s degree in engineering at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.
There was a time when Echazarreta was discouraged by people around her to abandon her pursuit of traveling to space, but she persevered. “Everyone around me — family, friends, teachers — I just kept hearing the same thing: That’s not for you,” she said.
Her fellow passengers included Victor Vescovo, Jaison Robinson, Hamish Harding, Evan Dick and Victor Correa Hespanha, the second Brazilian to fly to space.