#029 – Mission to Mars with Astronaut Abby

We talk possible missions to mars in addition to general space travel topics with special guest Abby Harrison AKA Astronaut Abby.

Abigail Harrison is a girl with a dream. She aspires to be a scientist and dreams of becoming a NASA astronaut. But it doesn’t stop there–she also dreams of becoming the first astronaut to Mars. With a dreams this big, it takes setting goals and working

Photo Illo. Teenager Abby Harrison ” astronaut Abby’ is obsessed with becoming an astronaut, will be traveling to Russia courtesy of an Italian astronaut for the next manned launch to the space station.

hard each day to make them a reality. She is one step closer, having completed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity–traveling to Russia in May 2013 as a special guest of Italian Astronaut Luca Parmitano to be a part of a legendary Soyuz launch–Soyuz-TMA-09M. After the launch, Abby was charged with a BIG responsibility: she served as Parmitano’s Earth Liaison, bringing space down to Earth by sharing Parmitano’s space mission with her followers and other young people interested in space. Abby has also created a worldwide outreach program called the #FutureOfSpace that is geared toward igniting passion and excitement about space, STEM and dreams with kids around the world. It includes an email pen pal program, classroom visits, web chats, speaking at events and sharing on her social media channels and blog.

Early STEM Education

Abby is committed to inspiring her generation, The Mars Generation, to dream big, act big and inspire others. Since the age of five, Abby has been dreaming of space and flying. A hands-on experience in the fifth grade cemented her commitment to her dream: Abby was chosen to participate in the Minneapolis Public School GEMS program (Girls in Engineering, Mathematics and Science) at her school. Four years later, she had built robots, conducted science experiments and participated in NASA’s weather balloon program through the University of Minnesota.

How AstronautAbby.com Got Started

By 8th grade, Abby was a member of her school’s top-ranked Science Bowl team and had created an award-winning State History Day Project titled Debate and Diplomacy: The History of the ISS. The project spanned both history and science and included Abby’s interviews with astronauts as well as industry space experts like Susan Freedman, an NASA engineer for the International Space Station.

It was during this project that Abby created an online presence and became Astronaut Abby. She found the power of social media allowed her to connect with people around the world who were both space professionals as well as enthusiasts. In December 2011, Abby was invited as a guest blogger for NASA’s ISS blog, in which she wrote a post titled “Meet a Teen with Space Dreams.” In March 2012, Abby was featured in an article on NASA’s education website titled “Astronaut Abby Hearts NASA.” In October of 2013, Abby was invited to present a TEDx talk in Tampa Bay. Her talk titled “What’s Your Mars?” has been shared around the globe, inspiring thousands of kids and adults to find their Mars and follow their own passion and purpose. Watch the video now to be inspired and please share with your friends!

Abby’s goal with her blog at AstronautAbby.com, Twitter account, Facebook Page, Instagram account and Google+ Page is to share her experience of reaching for these amazing dreams and to inspire other teens and young adults to set their own goals and reach for the stars. Abby hopes to encourage adults to continue to invest in STEM education and to re-commit to the research of NASA and human space exploration. She takes the responsibility of being the Ambassador of The Mars Generation and continues to empower her generation to keep the torch burning.

Working Hard Everyday to Achieve Her Goals

Having graduated high school in June 2015, Abby took all of her courses her senior year at the University of Minnesota as part of an exclusive post-secondary education program through Minneapolis Public Schools. Abby continues to conduct her STEM and Space outreach program as well as volunteer to help run kids science programs within her community. She has been a Model UN member and part of the Youth in Government Program through her four years of high school. She has also participated in the statewide steering committee for these programs. Abby served as a captain of her high school gymnastics team, a varsity member of her high school dive team and a varsity member of her high school track and field team with pole vaulting as her main event. It’s obvious that keeping Abby on the ground is a challenge, as she loves to be flying through the air!

Abby is attending Wellesley College, where retired NASA Astronaut Pamela Melroy also attended. She plans to study microbiology and physics with a goal of attaining a doctorate and becoming a scientist. The one piece of advice Abby always refers back to in her following her own dreams and also encouraging others was given to her by her mentor, Astronaut Luca Parmitano: “Follow your heart in your studies and do what you love. NASA is looking for people who are passionate about what they do.” This counsel has helped Abby to set goals and navigate a path to space that not only prepares her for applying to become a NASA astronaut, but also keeps her excited about the process. She continues to correspond with Astronaut Luca Parmitano. He has graciously offered to be Abby’s mentor as she works for a goal that may seem impossible to some. He stated in an interview Abby conducted several years ago “Someday I will be training you to be an astronaut.” It’s a dream that Abby hopes to see become reality.

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