Future Mars Walker Moving to Mars
Q&A with Alyssa Carson
Born and based in Louisiana, 18-year-old Alyssa Carson is likely to be one of the first few people to go to Mars in the early 2030s. Carson enrolled in the Advanced Possum Academy in October 2016 when she was just 15 years of age, graduating and becoming certified to go to space— making her the world’s youngest astronaut in training. She has attended all of NASA’s 19 space camps and is the only person in the world who completed the NASA passport programme, having visited all sites.
To mark the Moving to Mars exhibition, the Design Museum caught up with Alyssa to find out more about her inspiring story.
Alyssa: I have always had an interest in space and to be able to work towards something I love is amazing. I would love to be able to make an impact as big as doing scientific research on Mars. Just knowing that there is a chance of that becoming a reality excites and motivates me to continue working towards it.
Alyssa: I first got interested in space when I was around three or so. My best guess as to what sparked my interest is the cartoon 'The Backyardigans'. The show has these friends who go on imaginary adventures in every episode and one of the episodes was a mission to Mars. I had the poster for that particular episode hung in my bedroom for years. My dad remembers me coming and asking a bunch of questions about space and Mars. From that moment my passion for space never faded.
Alyssa: Building a colony on Mars will help humans in understanding our capabilities of venturing to other planets. Mars is the first baby step in future and further space exploration. Life there is going to be very different. You would have to put on an entire space suit to even walk out the front door. However, the resources or findings could be beneficial to our planet Earth. Whether it is bringing things back to Earth or creating a second home for future generations.
Alyssa: Sandra Magnus was a huge inspiration for me and taught me that it didn't matter how young I was. I realised that I could still have my dream, work hard, and one day it could become a reality. From the moment I met her, I was inspired to continue pursuing my dream.
Alyssa: All of the NASA space camps are a lot of fun. You are able to be with other kids who have a similar interest as you and learn all about space travel. While at the camps you build your own rocket, ride simulators, reenact realistic missions, and much more. The camp really makes you feel like you are being an astronaut for a week. I also love that you don't have to want to be an astronaut to go. It is a perfect place for any space lover.
Alyssa: I have been doing anything that I believe could help my resume in the future for when I apply. So far I have gotten my scuba certification, pilots certification, completed water survival, micro gravity flights, g force training, decompression training, and multiple space classes. I plan to continue doing as much as I can while continuing through school.
Alyssa: The current plan is start sending humans to Mars in the early 2030s. I do not plan to make any long term trips to space before that however I would be up for some short term flights. This could consist of suborbital research flights. The only reasons I wouldn't plan to go to the International Space Station beforehand is because I wouldn't want to put the pressures on my body before the mission to Mars. Being in space weakens your muscles and causes bone density loss.
Alyssa: My high school was an international immersion school. This means that since kindergarten I learned all of my subjects in four different languages which were English, French, Spanish, and Mandarin. A normal day for me was just like any other teenager going to school consisting of classes and homework. Some days I had to travel for training or speaking but for the most part I tried to stay in school as much as possible.
Alyssa: I would tell anyone to follow their dreams no matter who they are. I know that at three saying I wanted to be an astronaut and go to Mars was the craziest dream I could have picked, but it is becoming more and more of a reality. It is important to work hard after your dreams and talk about them because you never know where opportunities might be. So follow your dreams and never let anyone take your dreams away from you.
QUICK FIRE ROUND
Book: The Martian or The Great Gatsby
Film: 50 First Dates
Song: Anything by Khalid
Alyssa: Faster communication between Earth and Mars. Currently it takes on average 15 minutes for messages to travel from Earth to Mars. Having faster communications would help with problems that we might face and better communication with loved ones.
Alyssa: I would take Elon Musk, my dad, and Neil deGrasse Tyson
Alyssa: I would of course miss all of my friends and family the most, but other than that I would miss the feeling of Earth's nature. The feeling of being able to go outside and smell the fresh air and see trees, water, and wildlife.
Alyssa: I do not know yet what I would like to say. It seems like a lot of pressure to come up with something that will be so momentous. I definitely am a maths and science person so luckily I still have some time to get my wording right!