Teen launches mission supported by astronauts to get young people to Mars

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Projected Mars
A Jordanian boy poses with an image of Mars projected on a wall during a gathering to watch the red planet in Amman's sky January 28, 2010. Reuters

A college freshman has launched the new organisation, “The Mars Generation,” on Sept 15 to provide people of all ages the knowledge about being a member of the generation that will bring humans on Mars. The organisation, initiated by the 18-year-old blogger Abigail Harrison, plans to help students through a first ever student space ambassador programme, along with Space Camp scholarships.

Harrison, from Minneapolis in the United States, has been using the social media identity "Astronaut Abby" for five years, dreaming of being an astronaut, prior to the development of the programme. The Mars Generation is supported by astronauts, space programme workers and social media experts, which serves as a non-profit organisation for young people to learn more about space exploration.

Harrison will be working on The Mars Generation with some experts in space exploration, including three former NASA astronauts, an International Space Station expert, a Boeing Space Launch System engineer and a writer of Space.com.

"I am founding it with an incredible advisory board and founding board — people who have expertise in all types of areas who are able to now share their experiences, their abilities, their talents and their contributions with students and adults around the world in a way that I never could," Harrison told Space.com.  The student was also aiming to be member of the first crew to land on the surface of Mars.   

The organisation will provide education for students ages 13 to 24 on how to participate in their communities, advance their own outreach activities and to work with social media to their benefits. Also, The Mars Generation will grant students with Space Camp scholarships to attend the programme at the U.S. Space & Rocket Centre in Huntsville, Alabama.

"This is a way to expand Space Camp's ability to affect young people throughout the United States," Harrison said. The scholarship programme will provide poor students and those with the scholarships already a support as they find it difficult to meet travel fees.

The Mars Generation would be an opportunity for people to better understand the importance of space exploration, she said. "The work that I am trying to do now and that I hope and intend to do until the Mars launches happen, is not really about me but about someone getting to Mars."

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