GUADALAJARA, Mexico – After almost losing her life some months ago, Andrea Gonzalez has fulfilled her dream of joining the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and showing that Mexican women are able to work on very significant projects.
Gonzalez told EFE that she had dreamed of being an astronaut and being in NASA since she was a little girl, and she finally fulfilled that dream in late 2019 when she was selected by the Mexican Space Agency for The International Air and Space Program.
“It meant something very big, ... to be able to represent my university, Mexican women and a dream fulfilled because since I was a little girl I’d been enchanted with NASA, space. I wanted to study aerospace engineering because I thought that, in that way, I’d be able to get here faster,” she said, wearing the special suit assigned to her at the US space agency.
At age 19, Gonzalez is studying nanotechnology engineering at the University of Guadalajara since her parents were not able to pay for the aerospace engineering coursework she wanted.
In March 2019, she almost lost her life after a blood clot developed in one of her legs and she had to undergo delicate emergency surgery that kept her in bed for several weeks.
A few months later, thanks to a schoolmate, she learned of the program and completed a series of tests and very strict requirements to be part of NASA, and she was accepted for a training program.
NASA opened its doors for the first time to Andrea and a group of young people at its facilities in Huntsville, Alabama, where they perform zero gravity tests, simulations of missions to Mars and they also were challenged to create a material that could be used at the bases the space agency intends to establish on the Moon.
“The astronauts use gold in their helmets and we proposed to exchange that for synthetic quartz crystals because it’s the hardest crystal on the planet. That would protect them from cosmic dust and stones and they’d be able to use it at the lunar bases they intend to build ... It’s also inexpensive to use,” she said.
Although the project of the team on which Gonzalez worked was not the winner of the competition, she said that she will try to get accepted again into the program this year to be able to work on a project that will win first prize and be approved for testing on the International Space Station.
“I’d love to return to the program again to win first place so I don’t keep having that little irritation and to know that if I can, I’m going to achieve it,” she said.