As children we are often confronted with the question: “What do you want to do when you grow up?” and most often, we have the wildest ideas of what we want to do. We want to become sports professionals, princesses, adventurers, or astronauts. In our innocence, we believe that anything is possible, but regrettably, most of us lose our innocent belief and give up on our dreams.
Not Alyssa Carson, though. Already at the age of 3, she dreamed of being involved in space exploration. “My father told me about the moon landings and that we could one day travel to Mars,” and that got her curious about the topic and made her watch videos, read books and go to all the Space Camps she could find. By age 7 she knew space was her dream and Mars her destination, so she went for it with all she got.
But it hasn’t been always easy to be taken seriously at such a young age in that industry, she explains, and it’s still sometimes a struggle. Her older peers “have always been welcoming and nurtured my interest in space, but at the same time, I’ve always had the feeling I had to prove myself, and I had to show that I was just as skilled or could contribute just as well.” Alyssa’s advice to any young person following their dreams include:
- passion: She loves space, so no matter if she experiences challenges or setbacks, she has a fire burning in her which keeps her going. So do something you’re really passionate about and let that fuel your motivation when you’re meeting resistance from your environment.
- balance: Although she is full of space passion, she thinks it’s important to balance out her life and not only to focus on her dream. Otherwise, her passion might burn out. So if you’re working hard to achieve a goal, remember to take time for fun and other activities too, so you don’t lose your motivation.
- openness: Goals are important, but life is full of surprises and the future unpredictable. She always tries to stay open and look out for unexpected opportunities and advices you to do the same. Keep exploring and trying things out.
Once you figure out what you’re deeply interested in and you learn to trust yourself and your abilities, any obstacle becomes manageable.
Astronaut isn’t a job; it’s a destination.– Alyssa Carson
Alyssa’s Carson Biggest Challenges & Biggest Learnings
Training to become an astronaut is no easy feat. It’s not only physically intense, but also psychologically. During her training, Alyssa Carson has practiced navigating in zero gravity, high up in the sky, and deep under water.
“The scariest experience was definitely my water survival training. It was the most physically intense, but it was also the one I learned the most from.” For two weeks, she learned how to survive under water, stay warm, not lose her orientation, and get out of a space capsule from under water – and all of that in a clumsy space suit.
“Pretty much the first day they buckled us into the seats [of a capsule], flipped us underwater and asked us to keep our breath, push out the fake window and pull ourselves out,” Alyssa remembers. “Of course, I thought I was going to drown. But it was definitely an interesting experience learning those skills.” Alyssa definitely believes in pushing oneself out of one’s comfort zone in order to learn and grow oneself. It’s scary sometimes, but always incredible rewarding afterwards.
Mars Mission & Space Jobs
“Right now the plans for going to Mars are set for the early 2030s, which is great cause I still have to finish school and get some work experience before applying,” Alyssa’s practical nature keeps her relaxed about the upcoming mission and the role she will be playing.
“It takes 10.000 people to send one astronaut into space, and there are so many jobs involved you wouldn’t initially think of.” Even if astronaut isn’t the job for you, there are a lot more ways to get involved with space than becoming an astronaut for NASA, she stresses. One’s dream can take many shapes and forms, so even if you’re more interested in robotics, in AI, in design, in journalism, in psychology, you can find a place in the space industry. “Definitely keep your mind open. And don’t be afraid to explore your different interests. All those small jobs really have a huge impact.” And this isn’t just the case in the space industry: It takes many people doing many different tasks to reach big goals. Whatever role you have and job you do, you can have a big impact as long as you place yourself behind a grand vision. It’s not about your title, it’s about your contribution.
A last advice from Alyssa Carson:
Talk about your dreams and goals. Someone might know someone who knows someone.
You’d be surprised how much help and support you can receive if you just let people know about your passion and interests. And don’t give up! “It’s sometimes all about timing” – if it doesn’t work now, it might work at a later time.
To learn more about Alyssa Carson’s journey and about space in general, watch our Pirates Talk with her below. In an interview with our pirates Netta Hociej and Dorothea Böhmer, Alyssa shares more stories about her training, talks about the books and shows that got her into space, and offers more tips on how to stay motivated and succeed in reaching your dreams.