Alyssa Carson, an ambitious 13-year-old girl from Louisiana, could be just what Nasa is looking for.
She is the first person to have attended all three of the space agency’s world space camps, she has been training to be an astronaut for nine years already, and she is determined to be the first person to land on Mars.
In this BBC short film on Carson, she explains that she wants to go to Mars because “it’s a place no one has been”.
“I have thought about possibly being other things but being an astronaut was always first on my list.
Carson speaks Spanish, French and Chinese, and tweets about her trips to Nasa events and space camps, and the talks that she gives to inspire other children to achieve their goals.
Great time yesterday at 4-H camp in Alexandria. Spoke to 400 kids & hopefully encouraged them to live their dream. pic.twitter.com/NvXO8SHJEo— Alyssa Carson (@NASABlueberry1) July 9, 2014
Euro Space Camp pic.twitter.com/tgoZxu1Gpi— Alyssa Carson (@NASABlueberry1) July 3, 2014
“I don’t want one obstacle in the way to stop me from going to Mars,” she says, reiterating her hard-lined ambition: “Failure is not an option”.
And Nasa is taking her seriously. “She is of the perfect age to one day become an astronaut and eventually travel to Mars,” Paul Foreman from the space agency told the BBC. “She is doing the right thing, she is doing the right training, taking all the right steps to actually become an astronaut.”
Carson’s father Bret says he has discussed the mission with his daughter extensively, and talked about the possibility that even if she got to the planet, she may not return.
“We have the next 20 years planned out, we know what she’s doing, she’s looking at going on a mission to mars in 2033,” he said.
He added: “In 20 years I may not ever see her again, there are options out there where they go to mars and not come back, and we’ve had those discussions, and if that’s the only option she still wants to go.”