DENVER (CBS4) — When humanity first touches down on Mars, it will have the spirit of a Colorado hero to greet it. The Perseverance rover carried the name of Kendrick Castillo, who was killed while trying to stop a shooter at STEM School Highlands Ranch in May 2019.

Kendrick Castillo

Kendrick Castillo (credit: LinkedIn)

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Castillo was a science and robotics fanatic — and this mission is a huge step toward sending humans to Mars.

His father, John Castillo, thanked NASA and called it a “wonderful day.”

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“We will know that Kendrick’s name is somewhere on the Rover getting ready to discover the red planet,” John Castillo wrote on Facebook.

The rocket that got Perseverance to Mars was built by United Launch Alliance in Centennial, and the heat shield deisgned to protect her on the descent through the Martian atmosphere was built by Lockheed Martin in Littleton.

NASA sent the Castillos a letter in the month following Kendrick’s death. It read, in part, “Kendrick’s extraordinary heroism and selflessness changed lives and saved lives. That spirit survives him. I would like to add his name to the list being sent to Mars next year aboard our Mars 2020 rover as a small token of our admiration for his commitment to what we do at NASA.”

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(credit: Castillo Family)

Anica Padilla