How 17-Year-Old Alyssa Carson Will Become the Youngest Person Ever To Visit Space - And the First to Step On Mars

Wednesday, 18 July 2018 - 3:46PM
NASA
Mars
Wednesday, 18 July 2018 - 3:46PM
How 17-Year-Old Alyssa Carson Will Become the Youngest Person Ever To Visit Space - And the First to Step On Mars
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Photo provided by Alyssa Carson
The youngest person ever certified for space travel is a 17-year-old girl from Louisiana. Alyssa Carson graduated from the Advanced Space Academy in 2016 and has been selected as one of seven ambassadors for the 2033 Mars One manned mission to colonize Mars.

When we were 17, we couldn't even boil an egg unsupervised. We caught up with Alyssa to discuss her training, why she thinks a human mission to Mars is so important, and the unique challenges of pursuing a rigorous professional training at such a young age.

Carson has already completed every NASA Space Camp in the world – for a total of seven times. She has also attended Space Academy thrice over, and so many Sally Ride camps they might as well have lost count.

 

Early 6am takeoff in my first open cockpit powered parachute

A post shared by Alyssa Carson (@nasablueberry) on


Right now?

"I am doing a lot of real astronaut training with Project PoSSUM," she told Outer Places, "by the end of August [I] will have my applied astronautics certification"

Project PoSSUM (Polar Suborbital Science in the Upper Mesosphere) describes itself as "citizen science astronautics." The Project hosts four training programs. She has already graduated from the Advanced PoSSUM Space Academy; soon she will be able to do suborbital research missions.

Certain aspects of training are easier than others, Carson tells us: "Micro-gravity was my favorite, floating around…survival training was most challenging."

(You'll notice that it's "micro-gravity," not "zero-gravity." That's because zero-gravity is a myth, along with a few other phenomena Hollywood made us take for granted.)

Pursuing an out-of-this-world dream is not without earthly challenges. Well-meaning friends will second-guess your decisions, and the internet is dark and full of terrors on the best of days.

Carson is grateful for her strong base, saying "I have been lucky that everyone around me has been very supportive." She dismisses the online trolls, adding that "most have no idea what they are talking about."

Another challenge is balancing her training with, you know, being a normal teenager. Well, as close as she can get to being one: Carson is taking a full high school course load in – wait for it – four different languages. "I really don't know how I have balanced everything," she admits, but credits her father with instilling time management skills when she was younger.

It highlights the adage that people will make time for what they truly want – whether it's easy or not. As Simon Sinek says, they "find their 'why.'"

Which brings us to the biggest question of all: Why is Alyssa Carson pinning her lifelong hopes and dreams on a manned mission to Mars at such a young age?

Opening quote
I think that this is our first baby step out of our cradle of Earth. We must take that first step to show that we can explore further. I hope the next generation after me takes [it] up further and then out of the solar system for the survival of the human race.
Closing quote


A bold vision, but she's not finished yet:

Opening quote
A single-planet species will become extinct.
Closing quote



Science
Space
NASA
Mars
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