While many of us can only dream of space travel, 17-year-old astronaut trainee Alyssa Carson is doing her best to make it a reality. The ambitious Louisiana-based teenager has had her “heart set on the stars” ever since she was a little girl. At only 3 years old, she told her father, “Daddy, I want to be an astronaut, and be one of the people that go to Mars.” Staying true to her word, she’s currently undergoing rigorous training to become an astronaut, with her ultimate goal to be part of the first human mission to Mars in the year 2033.
Among a long list of accomplishments, Carson is the youngest person ever to graduate Advanced Space Academy. She’s also the first in the world to have completed all three NASA Space Camps (United States, Canada, and Turkey). Furthermore, she’s the first and only person to complete the NASA Passport Program, having visited all 14 of NASA’s visitor centers located across nine U.S. states. In January 2013, she was invited to join NASA TV’s MER 10 panel in Washington DC to discuss future missions to Mars. She was later chosen as one of seven ambassadors for a Dutch company with a mission to establish the first human settlement on the red planet in 2033. In October 2016, Carson graduated the Advanced Possum Academy, making her the youngest person ever to be officially certified to go to outer-space.
Astonishingly, Carson has still managed to make time for a traditional education. She’s currently taking all of her school subjects in four languages (English, Chinese, French, and Spanish). She explains, “The biggest [challenge] is time and getting everything done at such a young age while also still attending high school. Continuing to train at a young age will also be further difficulties for me but I have done great with it so far.” When she’s not training or studying, Carson is also a public speaker. She aims to encourage other young people to also pursue their life goals, saying, “Always follow your dream and don’t let anyone take it from you.”