Meet Frank Rubio, the first Latino who could set foot on Mars in 2033
18,000 astronauts applied, but NASA chose 13 after two hard years of training, and Frank Rubio was one of them.
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With a few days to go before the start of a new decade that many predict will bring a second space race, NASA has already announced the 13 astronauts selected from more than 18,000 candidates who could be part of the first-ever manned mission to Mars.
Frank Rubio (41), an army colonel and son of Salvadoran immigrants living in Miami, could be one of them.
The name of the recent graduate astronaut and doctor in medicine was announced last Friday by NASA along with other members of this new generation of space explorers who will have to, according to President Trump's announcement, build a base on the moon as part of the expected first manned mission to Mars in 2033, while trying to beat China in the race.
Born in Miami, although he moved with his grandmother to El Salvador for six years and then returned to the United States, Frank Rubio never imagined that he would become an astronaut.
"It's not that it wasn't a wonderful dream, but because it was so far from my possibilities," he explained in an interview with Barrio.
He lived a purely Latino childhood with a mother, he says, who is the best reference for self-improvement and his "heroine," since she worked very hard so that her son could study medicine in college.
"When I became an adult and went to the school of medicine, someone shared with us about NASA and the resilience that was there, because of the problems of applying many times and being rejected, for the astronaut program. This person said that NASA sometimes looks for specific groups like pilots and doctors, and I said 'aha, I could look there,' but I didn't think that was possible at the time."
Ten years later, he mustered the courage to submit his application and, after years of hard training, what seemed unachievable became a reality.
"My goal is to contribute to the space program, I know a lot of people [because of the movies and stuff] are focused on Mars, but there's a long way to go, you have to take a lot of steps before you get there, I don't know if it will be achieved during my career, I hope so, and if I were selected it would be an extraordinary honor, but I'm sure we're going to have missions before they contribute, to test not only the spacecraft, but also the communications, the survivability, the systems, so if I can contribute significantly at those stages," he said.
Proud to represent both El Salvador and Latinos in Miami and Florida, Rubio believes not only that reaching Mars will be possible in 30 years, but that the American dream exists and he is the best proof.