Becoming an astronaut and travelling to space might well be the most common dream among children. Eventually, of course, almost everyone does something else when they grow up.
But not Alyssa Carson.
The 17-year-old from Hammond, Louisiana, USA, is NASA’s youngest astronaut and is set to be the first human to land on Mars. The mission is scheduled for 2033, which means Carson will be 32 by then, and is slated to last two or three years.
Carson is already in training for the mission, though she can’t officially be a NASA astronaut until she’s 18. She does, however, have a codename: Blueberry.
It all started at the age of three for her, when she watched a Nickelodeon cartoon titled The Backyardigans. It featured an episode named “Mission to Mars” in which a group of friends go on an imaginary adventure to the red planet. Since then, Carson’s only mission in life has been to become an astronaut, as she explained in an interview to ABC 7 News’ WJLA (video above).
Carson spent her entire childhood going through NASA’s United State Space Camps, visiting each one of NASA’s visitor centres and all things space. She told Teen Vogue in an interview, “I did the same thing as other kids, like switching my mind about careers, wanting to be a teacher or the president one day. But the way I always thought about it was I would become an astronaut, go to Mars, come back, and then be a teacher or the president.”
She is currently undergoing preliminary astronaut training under NASA’s Polar Orbital Science in the Upper Mesosphere project and other similar programmes, which includes zero-gravity training, underwater survival training and more (videos below).
All the training will prepare Carson for when she heads off in the Space Launch System rocket and uses the Orion spacecraft to go to Mars. “With the current technology, it will take 6 months to get to Mars. We will stay there for over a year because we have to wait for the planets to align together and then it is a nine-month trip back,” Carson told WJLA. The aim of the trip, she said, will be to find resources, look at water samples, signs of life, and to develop their own personal habitat.
Until then, she’s bound to head to the International Space Station for training soon, which will make her the first teenager in space. You can watch more videos of Carson below: