Astronaut Candidate, Mars One
Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers Inner Circle, 2012, 2016
By: Tim Estiloz
As a potential future space pioneer, Yari Golden-Castaño truly epitomizes an incredible spirit of limitless adventure, scientific advancement and, indeed, incredible personal bravery. Golden-Castaño is one of 100 candidates selected from around the world for the Mars One Project which is a one-way trip to create a permanent human settlement on Mars. She has already passed through the first two rounds of the application process and is preparing for the remaining physical and mental challenges in order to be selected as one of the final 24.
To be an astronaut was a dream Golden-Castaño literally has had since she was a child. Today, for her to be part of the 100 under consideration is a great source of pride; both personally and culturally.
“I’m definitely proud to be Mexican-American and with this Mars One project, I am the only Mexican candidate,” she said. “There are three other Latinos among the 100; one from Bolivia, one from Uruguay and one from Brazil. But, I’m proud to be the representative of Mexico because it gives me a voice to go talk to young students. I’ve given talks in Mexico and the students say, ‘you are one of us’ and they start to believe in themselves that they can go far.”
Originally a native of Orange County, California, Golden-Castaño now resides in Boston where she works on the development of laser communication technology at MIT. Despite the formidable challenge ahead with the Mars One Program, she has already overcome significant challenges.
“In high school, I was a Mexican-American girl, learning English and pushing myself to take the required courses to go to an engineering school,” said Golden-Castaño, “but, I had teachers telling me that I couldn’t be an engineer and that I wouldn't survive in engineering school and that I should consider a degree in the liberal arts or something like that.”
Clearly, she has surpassed those shortsighted expectations and is having the last laugh as she prepares for the ultimate technological challenge with determination, great expectation and a humble sense of bravery.
“I don’t have the feeling of fear of going to (Mars) and never coming back,” said Golden-Castaño. “All I feel about it, and when I imagine myself going, is just great excitement and a feeling of accomplishment. This goal of going to Mars is something I’ve been preparing for my entire life.”