When Neil Armstrong landed on the moon in 1969, he called it “a giant leap for mankind.” Never has this quote been more relevant, nearly fifty years later as NASA is training 17-year-old Alyssa Carson to be among the first humans on Mars.
Meet NASA’s Blueberry
Alyssa Carson was born in 2001 in Hammond, Louisiana. As a millennial, she grew up watching TV, which sparked her love of space. At the age of three, she watched the animated Nickelodeon TV series The Backyardigans. After one of the episodes titled “Mission to Mars” ended, Carson turned to her father, Brent, and said, “Daddy, I want to be an astronaut, and be one of the people that go to Mars.”
Ever since, Carson’s mission, as well as her father’s, has been to fulfill this dream. As of today, Carson aims to be the first human on Mars in 2033. The entire mission, starting from the launch and up to the return, might take up to three years overall! Her journey began at the NASA US Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama, and she has been attending the camp every summer ever since. Carson, now nicknamed Blueberry, after her space-simulation callsign, has been to every NASA station in the United States.
The Girl With The Pilot’s License
Carson is the youngest future-astronaut ever to be recruited. In retrospect, it makes a lot of sense, as training is intense, challenging, and takes years. Wonder what it takes to become an astronaut? While other teens her age struggle with exams and prom dates, Alyssa is working on underwater survival training, getting her pilot’s license, and so much more.
Carson wants to reach Mars to make new discoveries, research water samples, and see if they can discover any signs of life outside of Earth. The planned 2033 mission to Mars will use the Orion spacecraft and the as-yet-unused Space Launch System. It will take them six months to reach Mars, where they will stay for over a year; waiting for the planets to align to conduct proper research. How long will the trip back last? Nine months. Even on Mars, the return trip takes longer.
Never Ever Give Up On Your Dream
Carson is not only a determined and skilled young woman – she’s an inspiration to others. Through her training, she has become a featured speaker and lecturer, at events like the Girl Up Leadership Summit, where she spoke in front of over 400 women from 25 countries. Carson encourages all young people, especially women, to pursue their passion, study hard, and apply themselves to whatever challenge they may be facing.
“Follow your dream. When I was three saying I wanted to go to Mars, it was absolutely insane. But now, I am out here doing actual training,” Carson said. We wish Alyssa Carson all the best and hope to see her on the red planet soon!