She went from work to space under the glow of the Golden Arches — and now the first Mexican-born woman to reach the cosmos is a star in her own right.
Katya Echazarreta, who joined the crew at Jeff Bezos’ space company Blue Origin last month, is being honored by Mexico’s president, The Post has learned.
The 27-year-old trailblazer will share her historic journey during a meeting with Andrés Manuel López Obrador on August 2 in Mexico City to help others in her home country who have scientific aspirations.
“I hope this is just the first of many conversations where my experience can help provide more resources and create more meaningful opportunities for our bright students, scientists and engineers,” Echazarreta said of the president’s brainstorming session.
Echazarreta, who immigrated to San Diego from Guadalajara at the age of 7, also made history as the youngest American to fly into space. An electrical engineer, she applied to be a citizen astronaut in 2019, competing against more than 7,000 candidates from over 100 countries and earning a spot on the June 4th space flight by the non-profit organization Space for Humanity.
“When you’re up there and looking at the planet, there are a couple of things that really strike you, one of which is the color, the way it’s glowing a beautiful bright blue,” said Echazarreta, whose TikTok the Journey garnered 2.2 million views.
Even as a child, Echazarreta dreamed of becoming an astronaut, but the launch wasn’t always smooth.
When she was in high school, her parents divorced. And with her then-single mother, primary caregiver to her developmentally disabled older sister, and unable to work, Echazarreta was at a crossroads.
“So during that time I had a choice, I could go to college … or I could stay and help my family,” she said.
She enrolled in San Diego City College and got a part-time job at McDonald’s to make ends meet.
“I did that for a couple of years. I did pretty much everything except do the food, every other role I had. Every time I needed a job, I would go back to McDonald’s … even if it was for the summer or a few months,” she said.
Eventually, with a 4.0 GPA, she transferred to UCLA, where she earned enough scholarships to pay for tuition, books, and even rent. She graduated in 2019 and is now pursuing her Masters at Johns Hopkins University.
When she first found out about it, she was accepted on the Blue Origin flight, which Space for Humanity captured on videoShe cried and then said, “My mom is going to freak out!”
When it came time for takeoff, Echazarreta was only allowed to have one guest. She chose her mother, Liliana Martin.
“She was always like, ‘You can do this. Go ahead, do it, even when we said the most ridiculous things like going to space,'” she said, laughing.
Echazarreta was one of six aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket for the 90-minute flight and was only allowed to bring items worth three pounds due to weight restrictions in the capsule.
The newlywed, who married her community college friend last spring, brought her husband’s wedding ring on board, along with jewelry from her family, currency — both American and Mexican to represent her adopted and native country — and a Teddy bear in a space suit, a Kennedy Space Center souvenir.
“I got that when I was 15. His name is Buzz after Buzz Aldrin,” she said.
Her future goals – aside from going to the moon – are to help people in STEM subjects, especially minorities and girls.
But she was also reminded that she is an inspiration to boys too.
A mother recently took to Twitter to tell Echazarreta that her young son found out about her space flight and asked, “Are boys allowed to be astronauts too?”
https://nypost.com/2022/07/23/astronaut-katya-echazarreta-to-be-honored-by-mexico-president/ Astronaut Katya Echazarreta is honored by the Mexican President