Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Mexican-born engineer pushing for more diversity in space

Katya Echazarreta will become the first Mexican-born woman and one of the youngest women in space when she and five others blast off from West Texas atop a New Shepard rocket for a 10-minute tourist flight launched by Blue Origin planned for launch on Saturday, June 4, 2022. The flight comes amid efforts to increase diversity in space travel, which long has been dominated by white men. (Katya Echazarreta via AP)
Katya Echazarreta will become the first Mexican-born woman and one of the youngest women in space when she and five others blast off from West Texas atop a New Shepard rocket for a 10-minute tourist flight launched by Blue Origin planned for launch on Saturday, June 4, 2022. The flight comes amid efforts to increase diversity in space travel, which long has been dominated by white men. (Katya Echazarreta via AP)

A 26-year-old electrical and hardware engineer will become the first Mexican-born woman in space when she joins a diverse international crew for a 10-minute flight launched by Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin.

Growing up in Guadalajara, Mexico, Katya Echazarreta was encouraged to abandon her dreams of travelling to space.

“Everyone around me – family, friends, teachers – I just kept hearing the same thing: That’s not for you,” Ms Echazarreta told the Associated Press.

Ms Echazarreta will prove them wrong on Saturday when she boards the fifth passenger flight by Amazon founder Mr Bezos’s space travel venture.

She and five others, including Victor Correa Hespanha, the second Brazilian to fly to space, will blast off from Texas atop a New Shepard rocket for a 10-minute flight.

The automated flight should reach an altitude of roughly 66 miles before parachuting into the desert.

Ms Echazarreta, whose flight is sponsored by the non-profit Space for Humanity, will be the first Mexican-born woman and one of the youngest women to fly to space.

She was chosen from more than 7,000 applicants in over 100 countries.

The flight comes as Blue Origin competes with Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic for space tourism dollars and efforts aimed to increase diversity in space travel, which has long been dominated by white men.

Of the more than 600 people who have been to space since Yuri Gagarin’s pioneering flight in 1961, fewer than 80 have been women and fewer than three dozen have been black, indigenous or Latino.

In April, Nasa astronaut Jessica Watkins arrived at the International Space Station, the first black woman assigned a long-duration mission there.

Earlier this year, Nasa administrator Bill Nelson announced the agency’s first-ever equity plan “to further identify and remove the barriers that limit opportunity in underserved and underrepresented communities”.

Tabbetha Dobbins, vice president for research and dean of the graduate school at Rowan University, is a member of the American Institute of Physics task force aimed at increasing the representation of black undergraduate students in physics and astronomy.

She told the Associated Press that access to space – no matter how brief the trip – matters.

“They’re going beyond the boundaries that most human beings have gone and that’s a major step,” Ms Dobbins said.

“It’s so important that everyone sees themselves represented. It’s hugely impactful.”

But Jordan Bimm, a space historian at the University of Chicago, said it remains to be seen whether the commercial “space for all” ethos becomes reality.

“True diversity and access is sustained diversity and access,” Mr Bimm told the Associated Press.

“If we want the population of people getting to go to space to actually reflect human diversity on Earth, we need to rethink why we are going and who holds the keys.”

Ms Echazarreta, who is pursuing a master’s degree in electrical engineering after a stint at Nasa, said people from other cultures or other parts of the world “feel like this isn’t for them, like just because of where they’re from or where they were born, that this is automatically not something that they can dream or have as a goal”.

Katya Echazarreta will become the first Mexican-born woman and one of the youngest women in space when she and five others blast off from West Texas atop a New Shepard rocket for a 10-minute tourist flight launched by Blue Origin planned for launch on Saturday
Katya Echazarreta (Katya Echazarreta via AP)

“I hear that all the time, particularly from Latin America,” said Ms Echazarreta, who is excited for her family to see the launch, considering it their achievement as much as hers.

With this flight, Mexican parents can no longer tell their young daughters they cannot travel to space, she said.

Instead, Ms Echazarreta said, they will have to respond: “You can do it, too.”