First person to complete NASA’s Passport Program is Astronaut.coms friend Alyssa Carson5 min read

Astronaut.com’s first article on our 12-year old friend Alyssa Carson detailed the efforts she has taken to date in her dream to become an astronaut and the first person on Mars. We promised to bring you updates on our amazing friend as she continues to pursue her dream – what follows is her latest accomplishment.

On June 13th, 2013, NASA started its “Passport to Explore Space” program, where guests to their Visitor Centers can collect commemorative stamps, earning them offers and discounts in the process.

On November 18th, 2013, Astronaut.com’s young friend, future Mars astronaut Alyssa Carson was honored by NASA as being the first person to complete the program. Being able to complete the Passport Program is no small task — it involves visiting all 14 of NASA’s Visitor’s Centers stretching across nine states. That Alyssa was able to not only do it, but finish in such a short time period as well just further shows her dedication to achieving her goal.

Alyssa Carson is the first person to complete NASA’s Passport Program

Alyssa Carson is the first person to complete NASA’s Passport Program

“I wanted to be the first person to hand in a completed passport,” Alyssa explains. “I had asked Bill Parsons (a former Director of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center) what advice he had to help me become an astronaut. One of the things he recommended I do, in addition to getting my scuba diving, sky diving, pilot’s license, … things like that … was to try to have accomplishments that would stand out on my resume, beyond all of the degrees and qualifications that are needed to become an astronaut. So when I saw that NASA had this program, I thought it would be fun to do and could be one of the unique things that helps me stand out when it comes time to be picked as an astronaut.”

When asked if she had a favorite visitor center, Alyssa becomes very thoughtful. “Well, I have to remove Kennedy Space Center, Space Camp Huntsville and Johnson Space Center from the list so I can compare them equally.” {We pressed her as to what that meant, and Alyssa diplomatically explained that each of those has something special/unique for her that makes a comparison unfair. Kennedy has the launch pad, Johnson Space Center has Mission Control, and because she goes to Space Camp Huntsville a lot, everyone there is like family to her}. “The Intrepid in New York was my favorite. It taught me about air, sea and space, and had a lot of information on flight. Plus it was on an aircraft carrier, and I got to tour it, so that was cool.”

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Alyssa handed in her completed passport at Cape Canaveral in Florida, coinciding with the launch of the newest Mars orbiter, MAVEN. “It was an AWESOME experience,” says Alyssa, “The ceremony itself was well organized and exciting. It was an honor to have (astronaut) Wendy Lawrence put the last stamp on my passport. And at the end of the ceremony, they had me sign and date the back of my passport, so I wrote ‘Geaux MAVEN’, in support of the launch and for my state Louisiana.”

The Passport Ceremony Coincided with the MAVEN Launch

The Passport Ceremony Coincided with the MAVEN Launch

 

Alyssa Gets the Last Stamp On Her Passport at a Special NASA Ceremony

Alyssa Gets the Last Stamp On Her Passport at a Special NASA Ceremony

There is no hesitation when Alyssa is asked what she liked best about the entire trip – was it the ceremony, the idea that she is now a part of NASA history, getting to see a launch?  “The people! Meeting Wendy Lawrence was great, I love talking to astronauts … and I also got to meet Bill Nye, he was very nice. And it was an honor and a surprise to meet (Kennedy Space Center) Director Bob Cabana and Administrator Charles Bolton and have them sign my passport too!”

Alyssa and former astronaut, Wendy Lawrence

Alyssa and former astronaut, Wendy Lawrence

 

Bill Nye Also Watched the MAVEN Launch

Bill Nye Also Watched the MAVEN Launch

Alyssa continues, “Speaking with Administrator Bolden was so interesting … it was so nice of him to come and meet me. He gave me a lot of good advice and was interested in what I have been doing. That he would take time out of his busy schedule on the day of a launch to speak with me was just so special.”

Alyssa and Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana

Alyssa and Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana

Alyssa’s father, Bert Carson, was also similarly impressed, “Here you have this 12 year old kid  working really hard and seriously trying to become an astronaut and for NASA to treat us as well as they did was incredible. Meeting all of the people she did, having the opportunities to talk to them … these are Alyssa’s rock stars and heroes. She said it’s the best thing she’s done so far.”

Alyssa and Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana

Alyssa and Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana

That admiration seems to go both ways. Administrator Bolden’s office tell us, “Administrator Bolden was delighted to have a chance to meet Alyssa at the MAVEN launch, and was very impressed with all that she has achieved at such a young age. Her passion for space is infectious, and he wishes her the best as she reaches for the stars.”

 

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Sebastien Clarke

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