Eighteen-Year-Old Launches ‘The Mars Generation’ to Raise Excitement for Human Space Exploration

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College Freshman Credits Worldwide Support of Her Dream to be First Astronaut to Mars as Inspiration Behind New Organization

Aspiring Astronaut Abigail Harrison Astronaut Abby

Aspiring Astronaut Abigail Harrison

“The Apollo Program inspired many in my generation to get an education in a STEM-related field. I firmly believe human exploration of Mars can have the same impact,” said Wendy Lawrence, retired naval aviator and NASA astronaut.

College freshman and aspiring astronaut Abigail Harrison, known as Astronaut Abby, announced today the founding of a new organization that aims to renew the nation’s recognition of and investment in human space exploration.

The Mars Generation, a 501(c) 3 non-profit, will focus its efforts on advocating for NASA's Journey to Mars and advancing public interest in space exploration.

“The mission of The Mars Generation is to excite young people and adults about space and science education and to help people understand the importance of these two elements to the future of humanity on Earth,” Harrison said. “I am looking forward to helping my generation, the Mars generation, make our journey to the Red Planet happen during this new era of human space exploration.”

In addition to Harrison’s leadership, The Mars Generation launches today with an accomplished board of advisors, including:

  • Wendy Lawrence, retired Navy Captain, NASA Astronaut
  • Kent Rominger, Vice President of Strategy and Business Development, Orbital ATK and retired NASA Astronaut
  • Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, retired NASA Educator-Astronaut
  • Dr. Phil Tilman, Planetary Scientist, University Central Florida, Founder of NASA Swamp Works Laboratory
  • Elizabeth Bierman, Aerospace Engineer, Honeywell Aerospace
  • Myron Fletcher, Space Launch System (SLS) Rocket Propulsion Engineer, Boeing
  • Penny Pettigrew, International Space Station Payload Communications Manager (PAYCOM), NASA
  • Nujoud Merancy, Orion Mission Planning and Analysis Lead, NASA

For full list of advisory board members click here.

“The Apollo Program inspired many in my generation to get an education in a STEM-related field. I firmly believe human exploration of Mars can have the same impact,” said Wendy Lawrence, retired naval aviator and NASA astronaut. "That’s why I’m honored to be joining The Mars Generation as an advisor, focusing on the new Student Space Ambassador Program and Space Camp Scholarship Program."

True to Astronaut Abby’s own personal mission statement: Dream Big, Act Big and Inspire Others, The Mars Generation will operate three core programs designed to help meet the mission of the organization:

1. Student Space Ambassador: Will inspire teens and young adults to share their own excitement about space exploration with their communities.
2. Space Camp Scholarship: Will provide 100% funding (including airfare) for kids with aptitude in STEM and financial need to attend U.S. Space Camp.
3. The Future Of Space Outreach: Will empower people to support and advocate for human space exploration.

The Mars Generation, as a 501c3 organization, receives funding through sponsorships and individual supporters. All contributions are tax deductible.

In 2011, Harrison joined Twitter as Astronaut Abby, looking for a quote from a NASA employee for a school project. She was immediately embraced by the space community online as a leader in her generation. In 2013, Harrison decided to start a worldwide outreach program as part of her role as Earth Liaison to her mentor, European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Luca Parmitano, while he was living on the space station. The outreach program continues to thrive as part of The Mars Generation. Harrison has built a community of over 400,000 members on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Instagram with a potential reach of over 15 million people each month.

“I am committed to helping ensure that NASA makes it to Mars in the 2030s, whether or not I am part of that first mission,” Harrison said. “Making it to Mars is essential to our economic well-being. Our ability to dream big and work towards the impossible pushes us beyond what we think we are capable of as we evolve new technologies and innovations that have real life applications. This is what human space exploration does and why it is so important to the future of humankind. With a rate of return of approximately $8 for every $1 the U.S. spends on space exploration, it makes sense to work toward sending humans to explore the next frontier, Mars.”

Harrison is a 2015 graduate of South High School, a Minneapolis Public School, and completed a dual-credit program through the University of Minnesota during high school.

Harrison is currently attending the prestigious Wellesley College in Massachusetts. She is studying astrophysics and microbiology with a goal to enter directly into a doctoral program after graduation. Her goal is to become a scientist, her dream is to eventually become an NASA astronaut and be chosen as part of the first mission to Mars.

For more information on The Mars Generation go to: TheMarsGeneration.org

For more information about Abigail Harrison go to: AstronautAbby.com

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