Abigail Harrison is a girl with a dream. She aspires to be an astronaut. But it doesn’t stop there–she dreams of becoming the first astronaut to Mars. With dreams this big, it takes setting goals and working hard each day to make them a reality. In 2011, at the age of 13, Abby began to speak publicly about her dreams. Her work over the years as an international STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics) and space ambassador has led to a following of over one million people on social media.
In 2015, at the age of 18 years old, Abby founded The Mars Generation, a 501c3 nonprofit with the support of an advisory board of astronauts, engineers, scientists and her hundreds of thousands of online supporters. The nonprofit has reached over 25 million people in its first two years of operation with its work to educate and excite kids and adults about space exploration and STEM education. The Mars Generation has 3 programs: Future of Space Outreach Program, Student Space Ambassador Leadership Program and Space Camp Scholarship Program.
Abby graduated from Wellesley College in 2019, where retired NASA Astronaut Pamela Melroy also attended. She received degrees in biology and Russian. She just recently finished authoring her first book titled “Dream Big! How To Reach For Your Stars” which will be published by Penguin Random House in January 2021. She is preparing to enter graduate school in the fall of 2021-2022 after promoting her book. Read about Abby’s journey by scrolling down to find out how AstronautAbby.com got started, or watch her Tedx talk above.
Early STEM Education
Abby is committed to inspiring her generation, The Mars Generation, to dream big, act big and inspire others. Since the age of five, Abby has been dreaming of space and flying. A hands-on experience in the fifth grade cemented her commitment to her dream: Abby was chosen to participate in the Minneapolis Public School GEMS program (Girls in Engineering, Mathematics and Science) at her school. Four years later, she had built robots, conducted science experiments and participated in NASA’s weather balloon program through the University of Minnesota. All of this early education inspired the work she started in 2011 at the age of 13 when she began to publicly speak about her dream.
How AstronautAbby.com Got Started
By 8th grade, Abby was a member of her school’s top-ranked Science Bowl team and had created an award-winning State History Day Project titled Debate and Diplomacy: The History of the ISS. The project spanned both history and science and included Abby’s interviews with astronauts as well as industry space experts like Susan Freedman, a NASA engineer for the International Space Station.
It was during this project in 2011, that Abby created an online presence and became Astronaut Abby originally setting up a Twitter account to get a quote from a NASA employee for her project. She got the quote and was surprised to find so much more! People embraced her as a leader of her generation, the Mars generation. She found the power of social media allowed her to connect with people around the world who were both space professionals as well as enthusiasts.
She attended her first launch in May 0f 2011, the last launch of Endeavor which is where she met her mentor Astronaut Luca Parmitano. In December 2011, Abby was invited as a guest blogger for NASA’s ISS blog, in which she wrote a post titled “Meet a Teen with Space Dreams.” In March 2012, Abby was featured in an article on NASA’s education website titled “Astronaut Abby Hearts NASA.”
In May 2013 as a special guest of her mentor, Italian Astronaut Luca Parmitano, Abby traveled to Russia to be a part of a legendary Soyuz launch–Soyuz-TMA-09M. After the launch, Abby was charged with a BIG responsibility: she served as Parmitano’s Earth Liaison, bringing space down to Earth by sharing Parmitano’s space mission with her followers and other young people interested in space. Abby has also created a worldwide outreach program called the #FutureOfSpace that was geared toward igniting passion and excitement about space, STEM and dreams with kids around the world.
In October of 2013, Abby was invited to present a TEDx talk in Tampa Bay. Her talk titled “What’s Your Mars?” has been shared around the globe, inspiring hundreds of thousands of kids and adults to find their Mars and follow their own passion and purpose. Watch the video now to be inspired and please share with your friends!
Abby’s goal with her blog at AstronautAbby.com, Twitter account, Facebook Page, Instagram account, YouTube and TikTok is to share her experience of reaching for these amazing dreams and to inspire other kids and young adults to set their own goals and reach for the stars. Abby continues to work to encourage adults to continue to invest in STEM education and to re-commit to the research of NASA and human space exploration.
As the founder and President of The Mars Generation, Abby now has almost one million people joining her on this mission to excite kids about STEM/STEAM education (science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics) and also to educate people everywhere of the importance of STEAM and space exploration to the future of humankind. Scroll down to see some of the recent activities Abby has been involved with.
Best Advice Abby Has Received
The one piece of advice Abby always refers back to in her following her own dreams and also encouraging others was given to her by her mentor, Astronaut Luca Parmitano: “Follow your heart in your studies and do what you love. NASA is looking for people who are passionate about what they do.” This counsel has helped Abby to set goals and navigate a path to space that not only prepares her for applying to become a NASA astronaut, but also keeps her excited about the process.
Past Appearances and Accolades:
Space Camp 2010, Space Academy 2011, Advanced Space Academy and Mach 3 Aviation Challenge 2012