Do you think going to space is a pipe dream? 🚀 Well, put on your space suits because, in this episode, we're visiting the NASA center! And we're going to meet Katya Echazarreta, the first 🇲🇽 Mexican-born woman ever to go to space. Katya was selected from a pool of 7,000 applicants to join Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin trip to space. Join us as our host Emily Calandrelli chats with Katya about her childhood dreams and, of course, what kids can do now to become astronauts when they grow up.
Discover fun activities and songs that will teach your child all about collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, and communication in the Lingokids app! 💙
Child 1: When I grow up, I want to be an astronaut.
Emily: What does being an astronaut mean to you?
Child 2: Floating in a spaceship.
Child 1: Studying other planets.
Child 2: When I grow up--
Singer: I want to be a pilot with a uniform white, always flying high up in the sky.
Child 1: when I grow up--
Singer: I want to be a firefighter putting out flames,
Or maybe a police officer keeping people safe.
It's so fun to learn what you can be,
Growing up, growing up.
Child 1: When I grow up--
Singer: I want to be an artist that paints portraits.
I want to be a scientist that does experiments.
Oh, so many people you will meet,
Growing up, growing up.
Child 2: Growing up.
Singer: Growing up, growing up, growing up.
Emily: Hi, and welcome to Growing Up With Emily, a Lingokids podcast helping amazing kids to grow up and be even more amazing. Emily, it's me. As a kid, I was always asked, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" I wanted to be so many things. Does that sound familiar? Then I'm glad you are listening,, because you are going to find out what it takes to be anything you want. Are you ready to make outer space your superpower?
Child 2: Yes.
Child 1: Yes.
Singer: Growing up.
Emily: Last episode, we met Alexa Sorden, a principal who transformed a twice-closed, low-performing school into one of the highest-performing schools in New York State. Today, we're exploring a job that's out of this world, really, and really close to my heart. Do you wonder about life beyond earth? If you've dreamed of being an astronaut, you won't want to miss this episode. Today, we're going to meet a young woman who had her sights on the stars from an early age, and let nothing stand in her way. She worked on five NASA missions, including Perseverance and Europa Clipper.
Singer: Growing up, growing up.
Emily: We've arrived at the astronaut training facility here in Houston, Texas, where NASA astronauts prepare for missions. Do you know what NASA stands for? National Aeronautics and Space Administration. It's easier to say NASA.
Once NASA was formed, in 1958, the space program progressed at warp speed. By 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first two astronauts to walk on the moon. Do you know the International Space Station can be seen in the night sky without a telescope?
Child 1: No way. How long do astronauts live on it?
Emily: For months and months at a time. Astronaut Peggy Whitson holds the record for NASA. She spent a total of 665 days living and working in space.
Child 2: I'd miss my family and friends.
Child 1: How do astronauts prepare for space while they're on earth?
Emily: They come to this training center. Its laboratories mimic space so astronauts are well-practiced and prepared before they ever leave the ground. Come on, let's take a spin through this spacesuit museum, then we'll see some astronauts in action. Most crew members have three custom-fit space suits. One for training, one for flight, and one backup in case something happens to the flight suit. A full space suit can take up to 45 minutes to put on and it weighs about 280 pounds, or 127 kilograms, here on Earth.
Child 2: Whoa, that's super heavy.
Emily: Yes, but in space, it weighs nothing. Space suits are not easy to take off, so astronauts sometimes wear maximum absorbency garments. They're like diapers.
Child 1: Oh, when you got to go, you got to go.
Emily: Exactly. I think I'm ready to see some astronauts in training. How about you?
Child 2: Yes.
Child 1: Yes.
Emily: Let's check it out. Follow me.
Child 2: It's like air hockey.
Emily: That's right. Jets of air push up from the floor. Watch as that astronaut moves a heavy piece of equipment from one side of the room to the other with just a gentle push. The hard part is keeping things in place when there's no gravity. Imagine if everything in your bedroom, including your bed, started floating around.
Child 1: That would be crazy.
Child 2: Then my dad couldn't tell me to pick up my toys.
Emily: Yes, you'd have to put them away instead. Let's visit one more anti-gravity lab. The sign says pogo.
Child: Look. Astronauts in spacesuits, bouncing up and down.
Emily: The pogo simulates how it would feel to walk on the moon.
Child 1: I've never walked on the moon, but I can dance the moonwalk.
Emily: [laughs] Maybe someday you'll be an astronaut, and you can have a lunar dance party.
Emily: Astronauts must be in tip-top shape. Oh, and you have to be 62 to 75 inches tall. That's about 1.57 to 1.9 meters.
Child 1: I guess I have some growing to do.
Emily: You'd be taller in space. Your body would stretch a little bit in weightlessness. After a few months back here on earth, you'd return to normal.
Child 1: That is so cool.
Child 2: Well, I'm still growing, and I'm hungry.
Emily: Maybe we can meet an astronaut in the cafeteria. Do you think they serve space food?
Child 1: I hope so.
Emily: Who's an astronaut here? Let's ask that young woman, maybe she knows.
Child 2: Good idea.
Emily: Hi. Excuse me. I'm with Lingokids and we want to find out what it takes to be an astronaut. Do you know if there are any astronauts in the cafeteria?
Kat: I'm an astronaut. My name is Katya Echazarreta. You can call me Kat.
Emily: Oh, you weren't wearing the NASA suit. Do you work here?
Kat: No, I'm here as a guest of the non-profit Space for Humanity, the organization that's sponsored my flight.
Emily: Great. Do you have time to answer some questions?
Emily: Thanks. You mentioned a flight. Have you been to space?
Kat: I have been to space. I went to space with a company called Blue Origin. I am the first Mexican-born woman to go to space and it was an incredible experience. Being the first Mexican woman in space means that I have a really big responsibility to help inspire and motivate kids all over the world and all-over Latin America. I take that proudly and I am very excited to share my experiences with them so that they can get excited about possibly going to space too.
Emily: Incredible. How did you get your start?
Kat: I have always been fascinated about space, my entire life. I don't really know a moment where it started. I feel like I have just always had it. I remember when I was very young, I would go outside and I would bring my little pieces of paper and my pencils, and I would create maps of the sky, trying to find the constellations that I loved and trying to find which were the planets, which were the moons, which were the stars. My love just grew.
Emily: What an inspiration. Maybe you can share at the end how our listeners can be a rising star in aerospace. Can you answer a few more questions from our Lingokids listeners?
Child 2: Kat, have you eaten space food?
Kat: I have eaten space food and it is not my favorite. [laughs] I definitely like earth food much, much better.
Child 1: Kat, how long did it take you to reach space?
Kat: Reaching space is faster than you might think. I believe it took us maybe four minutes.
Child 1: Wow, that's faster than the drive to school. [chuckles]
Child 2: How do astronauts sleep in space?
Kat: Astronauts sleep in space in a very different way, because you are floating, it's hard to do what we would normally do on Earth, like lying down. The way that we normally sleep here on earth is we get very comfortable in our beds, get under our covers, lay down in our pillow. In space, things like this are not possible. You actually have to strap yourself down. Maybe use some Velcro to stick yourself to different surfaces, and that is how you're able to actually stay in one place instead of just floating around as you try to sleep.
Child 1: Kat, how old were you when you decided you wanted to be an astronaut?
Kat: When I was seven years old, I decided I wanted to go to space. It's been pretty much since that age that I've been working towards that goal in some way, almost every day.
Child 1: That's almost like me, and what did your parents say?
Kat: My mom is actually the one that gave me the idea. She saw how passionate I was about space, science, and technology, and how my face just always lit up anytime any subject relating to space was brought up. I remember that I asked her what the hardest thing somebody can do is, and she told me, "Being an astronaut." That's when I said, "Okay, that's what I want to do." From that moment on, that was my goal.
Child 2: I've only seen astronauts in the movies, or on TV, and could not imagine talking to one.
Child 1: Me neither.
Child 2: What is the best part of being an astronaut?
Kat: I would definitely say that it is being able to look at the planet. That is something that is just so incredible, and I just truly wish that everyone on this earth got the opportunity to see that, to feel that, and to let it change their perspective on life.
Emily: Wow, Kat, you've had an adventurous career, and you've only just begun. Thank you so much for sharing. Kat, what can kids do now, while they're still growing up, to become an astronaut?
Kat: There are a lot of really amazing things that you can do, particularly online. There are so many free different classes that you can take. I remember when I was younger, I signed myself up for astronomy classes, for classes that would teach me about the solar system, about the universe. I loved math and science so working really hard in your own math and science classes is something that you can also do, starting now.
That way, when you reach the levels, as you grow, you're going to be able to just learn more, more, more, and more.
Emily: Amazing. What about physical preparedness? What would you recommend that kids can do now, to physically prepare for a trip to space?
Kat: The physical preparation is one of the most important things, on top of your education and everything else. As kids, there are actually some things you can do, believe it or not. One of the most important things is to start getting rid of your weak stomach. [laughs] If you have a pretty weak stomach, if maybe you get carsick, or you get sick in the plane, then it's going to be a little bit difficult if you want to become an astronaut, because it is a pretty heavy experience, physically.
Some things that you can do is-- It's going to sound kind of funny, so go tell your parents that I told you this. You have to go on rollercoasters. That is a tip that a astronaut gave me. He spent months and months in space. He said, "Go on a rollercoaster, the worst one you can find, and just ride it over and over and over, until it no longer makes you want to throw up." [laughs]
Child 2: I bet no one is going to believe me, I met a real astronaut, and that it's possible to become one.
Kat: Throughout your life, you're going to have a lot of people, maybe some people close to you, maybe some people that you care about, that are going to tell you that your dreams might be too big, that maybe they're not too realistic. I just want you to know that if I had listened to them, then I wouldn't be here right now. Please always believe in yourself, trust yourself, and believe in what you want to do, because that is how you're going to get there.
Emily: Thanks so much, Kat. Meeting you has been out of this world. We hope you've enjoyed this episode of the Gowing Up podcast. Even if you never plan to be an astronaut, it's still fun to think about what's out there among the stars. If you could visit any planet, which would it be? Tune in next time, when we meet a real pilot.
Child 1: To live a full, interactive learning adventure, check out our Lingokids aap, with tons of games and activities for endless fun.
Singer: It's so fun to learn what you can be,
Growing up, growing up.
So come and join us, come, everyone,
So we can learn while having lots of fun,
Because it's so fun to learn what you can be,
Yes, it's so fun to learn what you can be,
Growing up, growing up, growing up.
[00:14:58] [END OF AUDIO]