Meet The 17-Year-Old Who’s Training To Be One Of The First People To Set Foot On Mars In 2033

Many people would agree that to be truly happy in life, you should dedicate yourself to a passion project beneficial to more than just yourself. Some aim to bring spiritual enlightenment to loved ones through their religion, and others aim to improve their communities. But one girl from Louisiana’s ambitions might just benefit everyone—yep, everyone—on planet Earth.

At just three years old, a little girl watched a silly kid’s cartoon that inspired her to think beyond the world she lived in. From that moment on, she pursued a new life’s passion with admirable and unbelievable intensity, aiming, in the end, to leave a lasting impact on all of humankind despite the serious risks.

In some ways, 17-year-old Alyssa Carson from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is just like any teenager. She plays soccer with her friends and chess with her dad. But even she wouldn’t go so far as to say she’s a regular teen.

UPROXX / YouTube

While kids her age fill out college applications or worry about their lives after high school, Alyssa has her eyes on another kind of application—one with a chance to change not just her life, but the world itself.

UPROXX / YouTube

The second she turns 18 in 2019, Alyssa plans on filling out the application for NASA’s astronaut training program. Her hope isn’t to study on the International Space Station or leap on the the moon like Neil Armstrong. Her ambitions go even further.  

If everything goes according to Alyssa’s plan, she’ll be the first human being ever to step foot on Mars! And this isn’t some silly teenage dream: her dedication to this goal makes even the most committed workaholics’s head spin.

Her interest in space started at just three years old. Little Alyssa watched an episode of the kids cartoon Backyardigans where barnyard animals, below, went on a trip to Mars. After the episode, the curious little girl went to her father, Bert.

She asked him if human beings have ever been to Mars. “I explained to her that we’d been to the moon, but not Mars,” Bert said. “But it would be her generation to become the Mars generation.” From that moment on, the Red Planet fascinated her.

“I started watching videos of rovers landing on Mars,” Alyssa says. “I had a gigantic map of Mars in my room I would look at. We started getting telescopes so we could look at space.” At age seven, she had a career breakthrough…

It was then her dad took her to NASA’s space camp in Huntsville, Alabama. “That was the weekend of my life,” she recalls. “I got to learn everything I had been wanting to know and more…I got to see a life-size rocket.” But one trip to space camp wasn’t enough.

Huntsville

Over the years, she returned to NASA’s camps a whopping 18 times. By age 12 she became the first person in history to attend all of NASA’s space camps located throughout the world in Alabama; Quebec, Canada; and Izmir, Turkey. She was only getting started.

Alyssa undertakes any space-related activity she can get within a finger’s length of. “She’s the youngest to ever graduate from Advanced Space Academy,” her father noted. “She got her rocket license before getting a [driver’s] permit.”

NASA

The teenager also regularly participates in simulated space missions and physical preparedness training; she builds robots and rockets and regularly takes weeks off from her college-level coursework—which she performs in four different languages—for additional training.

“Sometimes coming back to high school can be boring compared to this,” says the girl who’s earning certificates in diving to “build [her] resumé.” But when will her passion and drive actually see payoff? Are humans even close to going to Mars?

NASA

Well, on March 21st, 2017, United States President Donald Trump gave NASA a mission: get human beings to Mars by the year 2033. Just one week later, the agency released a five-phase plan to make it happen…

Phases zero through three will see rocket testing—which is already underway, below—deep space transportation, and study of deep space living. By 2033, NASA plans on sending humans on the nine-month trip to Mars—hopefully with a then-32-year-old Alyssa included.

 With her eyes on such a far-off prize, Alyssa understands the sacrifices she must make in her modern day life. “The idea of having a family,” Alyssa says, “is something NASA would want you to consider once you come back from Mars.” In other words…

UPROXX / YouTube

“It’s a place we’ve never been to, and it’s a dangerous mission,” she says. “Having someone you love on earth, that’s a distraction.” Romance, then, is off the table for another 15 years. But potential relationships aren’t the only ones affected by Alyssa’s plans.

UPROXX / YouTube

“Every time Alyssa talks about having to go to space,” Camille Taylor, left, Alyssa’s best friend, says, “it makes me sad because I’m saying, ‘oh she’s going to leave me one day.'” Her father echoes that sadness.

UPROXX / YouTube

Bert recognizes the dangers of space travel. As former International Space Station commander Chris Hadfield, below, explained in a 2018 interview, right now, “the majority of the astronauts that we [would send on Mars] missions wouldn’t make it.”

NASA

Space travel in cramped quarters could drive a person crazy. Deep-space radiation would bring incredibly high cancer risks. Not to mention, more than one cleared-to-launch rocket has just straight up exploded. Bert, however, considers another factor, too.

Joel Kowsky / NASA

If all goes according to NASA’s plan, Alyssa would spend three years on the Red Planet, growing food and performing experiments, essentially making it livable for colonizing humans. The idea is practically unbearable to the loving dad.

“I still have to look at it as a father,” he said, fighting back tears, “that I’ll have my child for 20 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.” Indeed, her mission might be crucial to the survival of mankind.

Alyssa Carson / Facebook

Alyssa believes that a “single-planet species will become extinct. Just going to Mars will show people that we can move on from planet Earth”—a planet humans have inarguably done damage to over the millennia.

“Even though there’s a lot of risk in going to Mars, I believe that the rewards are so much greater,” Alyssa says. And her father, sad as the idea of losing his daughter makes him, couldn’t agree more. “This is bigger than the two of us,” he says.

And that’s why Alyssa’s relentless in her pursuit of getting to Mars. NASA is even “more precise about who they want for [the Mars] mission,” Alyssa says. It “motivates me to put in the hard work now to…help me stand out.”

UPROXX / YouTube

And in 2015, she added another impressive line on her resume. She was the youngest person ever accepted into PoSSUM Academy—a program “preparing people for space flight.”

UPROXX / YouTube

Amazingly—though maybe not so surprising by this point—the teenager already has aspirations for her time after Mars: she wants to be a teacher—which she’s already done a bit of!—or president of the United States. No doubt, she shoots far beyond the moon.

Alyssa Carson / Facebook

Chances are, Alyssa Carson will be among the first humans to set foot on Mars. Her secret to success? “I don’t think there’s anything specifically that makes it easier for me or that others can’t do,” she says. “It’s just something I’ve really focused myself on.”

Take a look at even more of the studies and exercises Alyssa undertakes to become the best possible astronaut in the video below. Humankind will be in great hands if she makes it all the way to Mars!

Alyssa’s pursuit to be the first person on Mars is admirable in every sense of the word. Isn’t it funny how something as simple as a kid’s cartoon can inspire a life’s passion?

Share this impressive teenager with all your friends below!

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