FIRST PINOY TO FLY INTO SPACE IN 2015

By Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, CAPE CANAVERAL, FLORIDA – A 22-year-old Filipino is about to leave a huge mark on history.

Future astronaut, Daniel Chino Roque is destined to become the first ever Filipino Astronaut to blast off from earth into space.

Out of more than a million entries in the Axe Apollo Space Academy competition, he emerged as one of the lucky 23 recruits who won the most coveted ticket to fly into space in 2015

Roque said: “Of course unang-una sa Diyos ‘to, lahat naman ng mapanalo ko, matalo man ang natutunan ko sa Diyos ko inaalay at siyempre sa pamilya ko, tatay ko nanay ko, mga kapatid ko.”

Roque’s journey to where no Filipino has gone before began at the John F. Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral in Florida – the launch site for every NASA human space flight since 1968.

One hundred and seven space cadet finalists from 60 countries underwent rigorous astronaut training here the Axe Apollo Astronaut Academy – three of them are Filipinos.

Filipino astronaut hopefuls – Evan Rey Datuin, Ramil Santos and Roque competed against each other for a free trip to the edge of space and back.

Space Expedition Corporation’s CEO and co-founder says the recruit who best completed the “Hero Missions” in space camp took that guaranteed spot for the Philippines.

CEO Michiel Mol said, “The performance at those missions is important, but also the way they have shown bravery, enthusiasm and team spirit — so those factors together will make what it takes to become a real astronaut.”

Recruits underwent missions and challenges such as the “Assault Course” – a modified obstacle course only tougher.

Would be Astronauts also took a G-Force training – a centrifuge machine that would reproduce the pressures the human body experience during space flight.

An Air Combat training and a final aptitude test, completes the training to become what SpaceX CEO calls as Generation Astronaut.

“For me to become an Astronaut is very very hard no,” Santos said. “You need to be physically and mentally fit, you’re bravery must be 100 percent.”

Datuin said: “For me to become an astronaut, you have to give everything, you have to sacrifice a lot.”

Winners will come back to the US sometime in 2015 to complete their final mission when the spaceport and the new space aircraft is ready to blast off to outer space.

For the lucky 23 who showed they have what it takes to become an Astronaut, Buzz Aldrin – the second man to walk on the moon has this advice.

“Work friendly close with all your brothers and have a great time,” Aldrin said. “See to it that you really have a good time.”

You may contact Don Tagala at don_tagala@abs-cbn.com for more information.

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