A young engineer popular on Tik Tok and Instagram and a graduate of San Diego City College will make history when she becomes the first Mexican-born woman to travel to space.
Katya Echazarreta, 26, was one of six people selected to participate in the "Blue Origin" Mission created by entrepreneur and billionaire Jeff Bezos.
Echazarreta, who moved to the United States at the age of seven, said the transition was very difficult because she didn't speak English, but she had very big dreams of going into space.
"Every night I've dreamed of going into space," Katya Echazarreta said in an interview during a live show that was posted on @spacehumanity's Instagram.
Echazarreta, as the eldest daughter, remembers that since the age of 17 she had to help her family with expenses when they went through very hard times, working at McDonald's, walking dogs, or doing whatever she could. This changed the plans of the future citizen astronaut a bit, but not her determination to study at a university.
"What was going to get my family out of that situation was to get an education. Not only to support them but to serve as an example to the rest of my family,” she said.
Echazarreta recalled her time at community college that allowed her to receive an all-expenses-paid scholarship to the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), and later to John Hopkins University.
"Every obstacle teaches us something," Echazarreta said.
According to program officials, Echazarreta's experience at NASA over the past four years as an electronic engineer will serve during the trip to space and will serve as part of the "Space for Humanity" or S4H program, an organization based in Denver, Colorado.
Echazarreta said that when her dreams came true at NASA, "it wasn't enough to have gotten here, I needed to bring others with me." This motivated her to open her social media channels to motivate other people who also dream of going into space, to feel welcomed, and to feel they also belong in the aerospace world.
According to Blue Origin, Echazarreta's mission will be to provide representation for women and minorities interested in the branches of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM.)
Maybe some people have seen her on the YouTube series "Netflix IRL" and "Electric Kat" on the CBS show "Mission Unstoppable."
Blue Origin announced Monday that the crew that will fly on its NS-21 mission aboard the New Sheperd spacecraft will include: NS-19 investor and astronaut Evan Dick; electrical engineer and former NASA test leader Katya Echazarreta; private jet pilot and Action Aviation president Hamish Harding; production civil engineer Victor Correa Hespanha; adventurer and co-founder of Dream Variation Ventures, Jaison Robinson; and explorer and co-founder of private equity firm Insight Equity Victor Vescovo, commander, USN (retired).
With this feat, Echazarreta would become the first woman born in Mexico and the youngest American to fly into space, who will fly as part of the Citizen Astronaut Program sponsored by Space for Humanity. While Victor Correa Hespanha will be the second Brazilian to fly into space, Blue Origin reported.
Echazarreta is currently pursuing a master's degree in electrical and computer engineering at Johns Hopkins University and earned her bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from UCLA in 2019. After graduating, she spent nearly four years at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory working on five NASA missions, including the Perseverance Rover and Europa Clipper.