CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida – Future astronaut 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.
“Of course, unang-una sa Diyos ito. 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 said.
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.
A total of 107 cadet finalists from 60 countries underwent rigorous astronaut training at 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 said the recruit who best completed the hero missions in space camp could take that guaranteed spot for the Philippines.
“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,” said Michiel Mol.
Recruits underwent hero missions such as the assault course, a modified obstacle course only harder, to a high g-force training, a centrifuge machine that would reproduce the pressures the human body experience during space flight, and an air combat training and a final aptitude test.
“For me to become an astronaut, you have to give everything, you have to sacrifice a lot,” said Datuin a finalist in the contest.
Winners will come back to the US sometime in 2015 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 land on the moon has this advice.
“Work friendly close with all your brothers and have a great time, see to it that you really have a good time,” said Aldrin.