Alyssa Carson is blazing her path to the red planet
“Always follow your dream and don’t let anyone take it from you.” — Alyssa Carson
Alyssa Carson wants you to know she’s going to be one of the first people on Mars. Since she was 3 watching the Backyardigans make the trip it’s been her dream. Codenamed Blueberry she even did a TEDx talk as a 13 year old explaining her mission — called “I am the Mars Generation”.
Alyssa speaks four languages; English, Spanish, Chinese and French. She’s seen 3 shuttle launches and been to Space Camp over 10 times. She’s getting her scuba, piloting and skydiving licence. Alyssa is also the youngest person ever to graduate from the Advanced Possum Academy, a non-profit training the next generation of astronauts. She’s been chosen as one of the 7 Mars One ambassadors. Alyssa is doing every single thing possible to guarantee her spot on the first manned Mars mission, and she’s doing them well.
Codename Blueberry — our first Martian? (Photo: NASA Blueberry)
What’s most impressive about all this is that Alyssa is only 16 years old. She’s still in high school. It seems odd that she’d be the first person stepping on Mars, but it’s highly likely.
NASA is on track for orbiting and possibly landing on Mars in the 2030’s. Their Space Launch System and Orion Crew Capsule aren’t finished yet and radiation is a serious concern for whoever is sent. These will delay the mission until at least 2030, likely later.
In 2033 there is expected to be a dimming in the sun’s radiation output and an ideal position of Mars relative to Earth. Due to the reduced cancer risks and optimal 9 month travel time this is a likely target for an orbiting mission and perhaps a landing.
Earth-Mars alignment for a manned mission (Photo: NASA)
NASA’s newest astronaut class will not be going to Mars. With training finished in 2015 — they’ll be the ones finishing up the ISS program into 2020 (possible extension to 2028) and winding that down. It’s the next generation, “The Mars Generation” that will be venturing out there. People like Abigail Harrison, Emily Briere, and Alyssa Carson (codename Blueberry).
These kids are in their late teens and early twenties. But by the time 2033 rolls around, they’ll be in their mid to late 30’s. Right around NASA astronauts average age of 34. They know that, and they’re working every day to make sure they’re the ones who get to go.
Alyssa’s dad naturally has some mixed feelings about all this. On the one hand, his daughter is working hard and achieving brilliant things. On the other, she’s committing her entire life to a possible one way trip to a virtually dead planet. When asked by Uproxx, Bert said while choking up;
“Little did I know that I would be raising a child that I’m supporting to leave this planet, and that’s just something that blows your mind, when you think about it. I still have to look at it, as a father, that I’ll have my child for twenty more years and then I may not ever see her again. And that’s hard. But, for what she’s wanting to do, I have to support her. I have to let her go. It’s bigger than the two of us.”
Alyssa doesn’t mind. She’s perfectly fine not getting married. All her time is spent doing her university level classes and getting more qualifications to hone her skills and chances. She still has a normal life to some extent. She does competitive soccer, ballet, and plays the piano.
She also does outreach work through her charity the Blueberry Foundation, and by speaking to young children about STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) and about the space program. As Alyssa explains it “I want to inspire kids to fulfill their dreams and have fun while learning.”
Her best friend Camilla is supportive. As she says “you might as well live now.” Meaning she’s happy spending time with Alyssa today, before Alyssa eventually blasts off to the red planet and possibly never comes back.
Alyssa lives for tomorrow, no doubt about it. Even though she may seem like a normal kid, she’s guided by this much larger mission she’s set for herself. As she likes to quote;
“A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”
Since she was three Alyssa has been planting those seeds for her Mars mission. Perhaps someday she’ll change her mind, and put her huge potential towards some other project with different shade to relax in. But the way it looks, come 2033 — we’ll be saying goodbye Alyssa, while she says hello to humanity’s new home.
Written by Andrew Walls
Andrew Walls is a university student living in Toronto, Canada. Andrew’s always been fascinated by what’s beyond Earth and loves sharing his wonder with others. For more of Andrew’s writing visit his outer space/entrepreneurship blog Landing Attempts. You can also find him on FB & Twitter.
Featured Image Courtesy of https://nasablueberry.com/