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Space For Humanity to send its first Citizen Astronaut on next New Shepard flight
by Staff Writers
Denver CO (SPX) May 11, 2022


Today, Space For Humanity (S4H), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, announced its selection committee has chosen Katya Echazarreta to become the organization's first ever citizen astronaut ambassador. Katya will become the first Mexican-born female to fly to space when she flies aboard Blue Origin's NS-21 flight.

Katya, an electrical and computer engineer and online science educator, was selected from more than 7,000 applicants from over 100 countries to fly on New Shepard and experience the cognitive shift of the Overview Effect. The five other crew members will include Evan Dick, Hamish Harding, Victor Correa Hespanha, Jaison Robinson, and Victor Vescovo.

"It still feels surreal that I am going to get to experience something that so few people in the world have ever experienced, especially because visiting space is a dream I've had for as long as I can remember," said Katya.

"I am honored to be representing not just Space for Humanity in this mission, but also all of the little girls and women out there who are dreaming of achieving something bigger, those that maybe just need an extra nudge or an example of someone who looks or sounds like them to help encourage them to take the next step towards their dream. I cannot wait to experience the Overview Effect and share more about my adventure with the world!"

At just 26 years old, Katya is an accomplished role model in the STEM community. As a female Mexican engineer working in the space industry, she is not only passionate about electrical engineering, but also in supporting other women who have big aspirations but may be deterred from a sector dominated by men. Katya is a UCLA graduate with a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering and is completing her master of science in electrical and computer engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

She worked as an electrical engineer on five NASA missions including the Perseverance Rover and Europa Clipper missions. She also currently co-hosts the YouTube series "Netflix IRL" and "Electric Kat" on the CBS show "Mission Unstoppable" while she works on writing her first book. With a prolific social media following in both English and Spanish on Tik Tok, YouTube, and Instagram, Katya is creating content to empower women in STEM.

Katya was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, moved to the US at age seven, and was separated from her family for five years during the immigration process. "My Grandmother told me to 'remember that even though we are apart, we are under the same sky.' That message has always stuck with me and speaks to the potential power of the Overview Effect, to understand that we are all connected on the same planet, facing the same challenges regardless of where we are physically located."

"There aren't words that adequately describe the excitement we have for Katya to travel to space and experience the Overview Effect firsthand," said Rachel Lyons, Executive Director of Space for Humanity.

"We have dedicated ourselves to the mission of expanding access to space for all of humanity and Katya personifies everything Space For Humanity stands for. This is an incredibly momentous and historic step for our organization. We cannot wait to witness Katya's life change forever and support all the incredible work she will do in support of this important perspective as an ambassador!"

As an ambassador, Katya will focus on three areas of impact following her flight:

+ Connection: Spreading the S4H mission and transformative impact of the spaceflight perspective through ambassadorship.

+ Contribution: The support and mentorship of all future S4H Citizen Astronauts and advising on the continued development of the S4H Citizen Astronaut Leadership Program.

+ Change: Show the power of space to benefit Earth by driving positive change in the world with tangible and measurable outcomes.

Katya is the first beneficiary of S4H's Citizen Astronaut Program, which sponsors exceptional candidates to experience the Overview Effect and then employ that new perspective to solve some of humanity's most difficult challenges on Earth. S4H, Blue Origin and recent New Shepard citizen astronauts Cameron and Lane Bess all helped make this experience possible. Cameron and Lane were inspired by S4H founder and fellow NS-19 crew member Dylan Taylor's call to astronauts to "Buy One, Give One" as a way to support worthy causes here on Earth like expanding access to space.

"When I founded Space for Humanity in 2017, I had a vision for how access to space could be democratized to allow diverse leaders to experience its transformative power, and work to make the world a better place. I am so grateful to our donors, our thousands of supporters, and volunteers, and to Blue Origin for helping make this dream a reality," said Dylan Taylor, CEO of Voyager Space, commercial astronaut and Founder and Chair of Space for Humanity.

"Katya is a consummate role model for STEM students around the world," said Audrey Powers, Vice President of New Shepard Mission and Flight Operations at Blue Origin, who flew onboard NS-18. "It's an honor for Blue Origin to help fulfill Katya's lifelong dream of seeing our fragile, borderless planet from space. We can't wait to witness how she uses this experience to inspire students to pursue careers in STEM for the benefit of Earth."

S4H's Citizen Astronaut Program (CAP) selection process is a comprehensive review of an applicant's leadership, impact, and community development experience and skills. Applicants had to demonstrate character, competence, confidence, caring, connection, and contribution as well as pass a series of background checks and health screenings.

S4H's diverse selection committee, which includes inclusion council, research team, and board members using rubrics breaking down each of these categories to score applications. Finalists then completed a series of interviews with the selection committee and ultimately a single ambassador was selected.

Related Links
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