Back in 2016, Nebula Creatives was lucky enough to have this fun interview with Abby Harrison, an aspiring astronaut as well as the founder of The Mars Generation, to talk about her wonderful journey to space, stories of her successes, challenges, and Lab 99.
Nebula Creatives: How did you become interested in space? Any inspiring or compelling events happened to you when you were younger?
Abby Harrison: I do not have any compelling events from when I was younger that formed or influenced my interest in space. I grew up in the Midwest and space travel was not a very prominent or visible thing there. I was 12 years old before I visited my first NASA center. My interest in space exploration was a result of two factors: natural curiosity, and science fiction. From my earliest memories as a child I remember looking up at the night sky and wondering what was out there. My fascination grew as I got older. I grew up on a steady diet of sci-fi and that fed me into my curiosity about space. I remember wanting to be an astronavigator when I was little because that’s what I had read in a sci-fi book – as I got older I realized astronavigator was not a real thing and settled for astronaut.
NC: What are some examples that signify your success or that allow you to move in the right direction toward your goal?
AH: I think the most important thing that signals success or allows me to move in the right direction is my tenacity to work hard and keep the faith in my dreams. When you have a nearly impossible dream keeping focused and deliberate on the path towards that dream requires commitment and ongoing dedication. My path is a marathon, not a sprint, and stretches out 20 years in front of me. There are plenty of little victories along the way which will someday all add up to me being the first astronaut on Mars.
NC: When we talk about space, it feels far, difficult, and (almost) impossible to reach. What are the challenges and how would you hope to overcome them?
AH: The challenges of human space exploration, and specifically human Mars exploration, are huge and ever present. But this is what makes human space exploration so valuable. We push humans beyond conditions that we can imagine and in doing so we are forced to innovate, design, and create new technologies in order to be successful. The technologies which were developed as a result of past space exploration are present in every facet of our lives today, and a mission to Mars will have this same effect. As far as how I would overcome challenges of human space exploration I think the most important thing to recognize is space exploration requires teamwork – it’s not really about me as an individual but rather about the massive team I will be a part of. So yes, in planning missions to Mars we face issues of radiation, lack of gravity, distance, and much more, but we will be able to overcome them because there is this incredible group of people all working towards the same goal.
NC: From learning about the Lab 99 story, do you feel as though you can relate to the main character Siri in any way? The passion for space? The struggles?
AH: Siri is a strong, intelligent women who finds her dreams are taken over by life circumstances out of her control. But she remains passionate about science and space and that passion leads to an adventure beyond what she could imagine. I know that I can definitely relate to Siri. When you have a goal that is as big and as far away as mine is, it can be easy to let the little things in life get in the way. I definitely relate to her struggle of remaining focused and dedicated to a larger purpose. I think parts of Siri would be relatable by any women in society, regardless of what area her dreams or goals are in.
NC: What are you thoughts on the story and why it would be a positive project for people to support?
AH: The story is creative and compelling and should be told. I think it’s positive to support projects like this for two main reasons: it encourages advancing arts as part of STEM, and stories with a strong women lead character are important to changing the way that women are viewed and treated in our society.
NC: If you had a choice, would you like to be alien or stay human and why? 🙂
AH: Alien of course!!! Well, I guess it really depends what kind of alien… if it’s a multicellular sentient alien then yes, alien. I would love the chance to experience something so completely different from humanity- to see first hand the way that a culture develops separately from Earth and Earths influence.