It’s been almost 50 years since humans first landed on the moon. Since then, the world now turned its gaze to the Big Red planet in the sky—and NASA is already prepping for the first human to reach Mars. One of space administrations top candidates for the job?A 17-year-old girl!

Alyssa Carson knew, at the age of 3, that she was destined to be launched into outer space in her life. Unlike other kids who’ve had the same dream only to drop it in favor of something else, Carson still intends to make it come true 14 years later. She’s on the right path and if everything plays out well, she very well could be the first person on Mars by the time she’s 32 years old.

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Carson’s dad enrolled her in NASA’s Space Camp for the first time in 2008. Since then the wannabe astronaut has visited the program several times and is the only person to ever attend all three NASA Space Camps that exist around the world.

NASA has been working closely with Carson to ensure that she will be a prime candidate for the first manned (or rather wo-manned) mission to Mars, scheduled for 2033. Her training includes learning subjects in multiple languages and physical lessons in microgravity.

NASA isn’t the only one with their eyes on this inspiring teen. According to Carson, other groups like MarsOne and SpaceEx are interested in her for missions in space (although not to Mars) that could launch even sooner than the NASA Mars mission.

“If we can find a mission for her in the next two years, she will be the first kid in the world to go to space,” her father told Teen Vogue in a March interview. “If we can get it together before she’s 20, she’ll be the first teenager.”

Carson says her passion began after watching an episode of The Backyardigans, where the gang travels to Mars. “I thought, ‘This red planet is so cool’” she explained. “I started watching videos of rovers landing on Mars. I had a gigantic map of Mars in my room I would look at. We started getting telescopes so we could look at space.”

Regardless of when and how she gets there, Carson is already an inspiration.

—Shahrzad Warkentin

Featured photo: Alyssa Carson via Instagram

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