Plenty of people dream of going to Mars. But unlike most of those people, 13-year-old Alyssa Carson of Baton Rouge, La. has been actively pursuing that dream since the age of 4, according to a new report produced by BBC's Jane O'Brien and Peter Murtaugh.
Alyssa tells the BBC, "I want to go to Mars because it's a place that no one has been... I want to take that first step." According to the BBC, she's already attended NASA's three world space camps. On her blog NASA Blueberry, she details her other accomplishments, which include completing National Flight Academy and NASA's Space Flight Academy.
Her rigorous training isn't just a phase: Her father, Bert Carson, tells the BBC that Alyssa plans to be on NASA's first manned expedition to Mars, which is currently expected to take place in 2033. Until then? He says, "We have the next 20 years planned out." Those plans include Alyssa attending the Cambridge and International Space University, according to her blog.
NASA spokesman Paul Carson told the BBC that they take people like Alyssa very seriously, and she's "taking all the right steps to eventually become an astronaut." Earlier this year, Alyssa even spoke on a NASA panel in Washington, D.C. about the future of Mars exploration. Last month, she posted a photo of her with NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden at a NASA event in New Orleans:
Of course, Alyssa's dream could come with big sacrifices. As her father tells the BBC that it's possible that if Alyssa goes to Mars, she might never be able to come back to Earth. Still, he says, "If that's the only option she has, she still wants to go." Alyssa agrees, saying, "Failure is not an option."