Known by most as Astronaut Abby, Abigail Harrison is an ordinary young lady with a big dream. From a very young age, Abby was determined to be a NASA astronaut and has now taken that dream a step further as she aspires to be the first astronaut to land on Mars.
As she continually takes strides towards her own goals, Abby has prioritised encouraging and facilitating the resources for others to do the same. With the combined expertise of engineers, astronauts, scientists and the support from her cultivated online community, Abby founded The Mars Generation in 2015, at the age of 18. The non-profit has the mission of equipping and enthusing the next generation about STEM and space exploration. The organisation managed to reach 10 million people within a year of launching, a figure which continues to rise.
Having the dream of one day becoming an astronaut, what is it about space that excites you and keeps you motivated to adventure?
Growing up I was influenced heavily by both scifi and a wonder for the natural world. My dad was, and is, a huge scifi nerd so I was exposed at an early age to the idea that space exploration was common and cool.
I was also very interested in the natural world, like most kids, and spent time stargazing and imagining what we could discover in space.
It’s that sense of wonder and curiousity that still stays with me today.
What are the challenges you’ve faced on your journey and training towards becoming an astronaut?
Balance has definitely been my greatest challenge! When you have a dream as large and far in the future as mine is it can be easy to forget to live life now. I make a concerted effort to both prepare for my future as an astronaut and live life to the fullest in the here and now.
Creating the project known as, The Mars Generation, which encourages young individuals to take an interest in space exploration has been a huge success and achievement. But what’s the key thing you’ve learned throughout the process?
Over the past year and a half since officially starting The Mars Generation, I have learned so much- it’s hard to pinpoint.
But I’d say probably the fact that there are so many people out there who are interested and invested in space exploration! Having seen this first hand makes me hopeful for the future. On a practical side, I have learned that running a nonprofit requires a lot of paperwork. And I am fortunate to have so much support and help to run the organization as it would be impossible to do this alone.
What’s the best part of doing what you do?
Speaking in schools! I love speaking in schools because students always ask unique questions full of creativity and excitement about the future.
If you had one message to give to the world what would it be?
Dream big, act big, and inspire others.
It is not enough to merely have a dream, you have to act on that dream and then use your resources and experiences to help others to believe in and achieve their dreams as well.