Chino Roque: First Filipino to go to space

Photo courtesy of Axe Philippines

Photo courtesy of Axe Philippines


By Peter Imbong/rappler.com – From more than 28,000 aspiring astronauts in the Philippines, down to 400, then 50, and finally down to the top 3, one man has emerged victorious: 22-year-old Chino Roque, the first Filipino to go to space.

“Right now I’m very happy that a lot of people have been showing me their love and support. I feel so blessed and grateful to all of them,” says Chino, who spoke to Rappler through Skype just a few hours after his announcement as winner.

The 22-year-old psychology graduate from De La Salle Manila will be one of 22 individuals who’ll travel to space in 2014. But his journey wasn’t exactly smooth sailing.

Twist of fate

In the beginning, the fitness coach and psychology graduate wasn’t even supposed to go to space camp. On the final day of challenges in August, two men were left standing: Evan Rey Datuin from Dasmariñas, Cavite and Mario Mendoza Jr. from Taytay, Rizal. Chino placed fifth. A third winner, Ramil Santos, would later join the two through the wildcard challenge.

But when Mendoza, an Air Force lieutenant, volunteered to withdraw from the competition to serve his military duties as a pilot-in-training in the Philippine Air Force, his slot was left open. And after a series of interviews, Chino found himself back in the game.

While he’s elated at the prospect of going to space in 2014, “I’m also sad for my friends Evan (Rey Datuin) and Ramil (Santos) because I feel what they’re going through right now. I know that in any competition, there will be a bit of bad feelings for those who lost. I respect them and the efforts they did to get here a lot.”

Space Camp

This week, the 3 arrived at the famed Kennedy Space Center in Orlando, Florida, for the AXE Apollo Space Academy (AASA) Space Camp. Together with 107 men and women from 60 different countries, they were put through physical tests that simulated launch, orbit and re-entry situations—all for the chance to become one of only 22 astronauts to eventually travel to space.

The tests included zero gravity (parabolic flights to experience total weightlessness), air combat (aerobatic maneuvers on the cockpit of a fighter jet), and G-force (interactive blast off experience). In space camp, participants from all over the world bunkered together in groups called Apollo, Enterprise, Genesis, Discovery, Hubble, and Atlantis. Chino was part of Team Discovery.

What was his favorite challenge? “The fighter jet,” he says. “I’ve always wanted to become a pilot and in this challenge, we rode and got the chance to co-pilot a marchetti plane.”

He explains: “When you co-pilot it, the pilot will give you around 10 minutes to play around and then he’ll take you through the whole course. You go up and then drop down, and then he’ll turn off the engines and you’ll experience zero gravity.”

On re-entry, the jet starts doing loops. And it is at this point that both pilots experience 4Gs, or the equivalent of four times the pull of gravity when on Earth. “It will pull your whole body down, your face down, and make it harder to breathe,” recalls Chino.

“It felt like there were 4 people sitting on your chest. But that was fun actually.”

Despite all the grueling physical challenges, the hardest test, he says, was, ironically, the multiple choice aptitude test. “I think everyone had a hard time with that. It contained physics, space travel, electronics, and other topics. I think I pulled it off with some of my basic knowledge of space travel.”

As the winner of the Philippine contingent, Chino will join 21 others from 60 countries who will travel to space onboard the XCOR Lync space plane in 2014.

Find more like this: Science

  • U.N. Rights Council to Investigate Killings in Philippine Drug War
  • Philippines declares national alert after 456 die from dengue fever
  • Trying to save the stories of a Philippine culture, one scan at a time
  • Pinoy archaeologist brings new human species discovery to Australia
  • Philippines a slowly ageing society – PIDS study
  • Page 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

    Entertainment

  • Nickelodeon releases first look at rebooted classic kids program Blue’s Clues with Filipino-American host Joshua Dela Cruz
  • How Marvel’s first featured Pinoy superhero can save society
  • This play tells the urgent story of a Filipino comfort woman
  • Will ‘Sahaya’ be the first Pinoy series on Netflix?
  • Z-GIRLS, Z-BOYS with Pinoy members to debut in Korea
  • MORE...

    Features

  • My story, and the new story of Filipino immigration
  • An appreciation of Moro food can bring Pinoy Muslims and Christians closer, says this Muslim chef
  • Showcase of PH culture, heritage
  • US and Philippines: Friends, Partners, and Allies
  • A Transgender Paradox, and Platform, in the Philippines
  • MORE...

    Tourism

  • Northern Blossom Flower Farm: Atok’s floral carpet
  • Philippines records ‘all-time high’ 7.1M tourist arrivals in 2018
  • Philippines island Boracay reopens for test run following huge cleanup
  • Philippines closes ‘cesspool’ tourist island of Boracay
  • Boracay Set to Ban Tourists for Six Months During Island ‘Rehabilitation’
  • MORE...

    Sports

  • Filipino speed skater bags spot in 2020 Winter Youth Olympics
  • Pinoy gymnast Carlo Yulo earns historic qualification in worlds
  • Finding a way to bring the NBA to the Philippines
  • First Filipino table tennis Olympian Ian “Yanyan” Lariba dies at 23
  • Skateboarder Margielyn Didal wins 4th gold for Philippines
  • MORE...

    OFW News

  • Filipino maids’ dragon boat team makes splash in Hong Kong
  • DOLE suspends OFW deployment to Kuwait
  • Some OFWs turn to vlogging to beat loneliness, share life abroad
  • Overseas Filipino Bank to serve immigrants, workers
  • The ‘bagong bayani’ of the Philippines
  • MORE...

    Environment

  • ‘Sordid Chapter’ Ends As Philippines Sends Back Canada’s Trash
  • Southeast Asia became dumping ground for plastic waste – study
  • Boracay Set to Ban Tourists for Six Months During Island ‘Rehabilitation’
  • Boracay: the good, bad and ugly sides to Philippine island for tourists
  • Luzon has greatest concentration of unique mammals
  • MORE...

    Pinoy Places
    and Faces