We always tell kids: dream big. But Alyssa Carlson thinks that's stupid. Because the 13-year-old Baton Rougue, Alabama, 7th grader has no time to dream big because she's too busy dreaming HUGE.
You see, Alyssa has a singular goal in mind: to be the first human to visit Mars. Yeah, Mars, the planet. And, frankly, since NASA's first manned expedition to Mars isn't slated to take place until 2033, when she'll be 32, based on her amazing NASA Blueberry blog we're gonna go ahead and say she's definitely going to live her moonage daydream.
Here are 13 reasons we think Alyssa will walk on the fourth planet from the sun:
1. She's been dreaming of the stars since you were playing with Legos
Alyssa started training for space travel when she was 3 years-old and, according to her blog, she's absolutely got the right stuff. Some of her achievements:
Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama: 12 times
Space Camp: 7 times
Space Academy: 3 times
Robotics Academy: 1 time
Aviation Challenge: 1 time
MIT Sally Ride Camp: 1 time
Sally Ride Day Camp: 3 times
International Space Camp in Turkey: August 2012
Space Camp Canada: July 2013 (making her the first person to attend all three NASA Space Camps)
2. She's seen how this works, and she's the best at it
Alyssa witnessed three Space Shuttle launches and won the "Right Stuff Award" at the parent child Space Camp she did with her dad. She was the only American child to represent the U.S. at International Space Camp, where she practiced the five languages she speaks: Spanish, French, Chinese, English and Turkish.
3. If it has anything to do with NASA, she's done it
Last October she became the first person to complete the NASA Passport Program, which entails going to all 14 NASA Visitor Centers in the U.S. She was also invited by NASA to be on the MER 10 panel in Washington to discuss missions to Mars in the 2030s in January, which aired live on NASA TV.
4. Adults have started listening to what she has to say
This summer she gave an inspiring TEDx talk in Kalamata, Greece, because that's something 13 year-olds do. "It is now time for us to explore beyond this planet," she said. "I want to plant the tree."
5. Her summer was just like yours, except 1000 times more awesome
While you were lounging at the pool and beating the heat at the mall, Alyssa got to see the last external tank left in existence from the Space Shuttle program, addressed fellow space kids at Space Camp Turkey, met with the Mars One team in the Netherlands and toured Cambridge and International Space University, where she plans to attend college.
Oh, and she also attended Euro Space Camp in Belgium, National Space Center in the UK and graduated from National Flight Academy in Pensacola and VA Space Flight Academy at the NASA facility in Wallops Island, VA. She even graduated from something called Gladiator School in Rome, which sounds... awesome.
6. Why is she so obsessed with this Mars thing?
"I would love to go to Mars because it is a planet that no one has been before," she writes on her blog. "It’s about the same size as the Earth and there are ice caps at the top and bottom of Mars. That means there is water on Mars. This could possibly be our next Earth... I AM THE MARS GENERATION."
7. Did we mention she's in the Space Camp Hall of Fame?
8. Of course she builds robots too
9. And tailgates for LSU
Because even Mars needs Tigers fans. Take that Katy Perry!
10. And plays soccer
Because of course.
11. She's already made it to the moon... sort of
12. One way is OK with her
Alyssa's father told the BBC that she understands her trip to Mars might not have a return date, and she's totally fine with that. "If that's the only option she has, she still wants to go," he said. "Failure is not an option," she added.
13. She doesn't forget that she's still a kid
Even astronauts have to celebrate Wacky Day at school.