STEM Education Archives - Astronaut Abby

Talking About Dreaming Big at East Kootenay Science Fair

Last week I got the amazing opportunity to speak in Cranbrook British Columbia at the East Kootenay Science Fair. Thursday was my day to speak to middle school and high school kids. I spoke twice on Friday – once to middle school students who were entered into the science fair, and then again to the public. Saturday I presented to the elementary students who participated in the fair. It was about 1,000 kids total! I answered a lot of questions and got to be around inspiring aspiring science students! It was awesome seeing all of the students’ projects and getting to talk to them about STEM, space and dreaming big! I’m so thankful for getting the chance to do this.

Here are a few photos from the event:

Cranbrook 1

This was my view at the East Kootenay science fair before I got the chance to speak.

Cranbrook 2

While signing autographs during the last day of the East Kootenay science fair, I asked each kid if they had any questions. Some were shy and had a hard time speaking up – but I could tell they had a question. I told them if they don’t ask me a question I was going to ask them one. That usually encouraged them to ask. :)

Cranbrook 4

Yes I talk with my hands just a bit. I can’t remember what I was explaining to these kids but you can tell it was important! :)

Cranbrook 3

This very serious 3-year-old, Zachary, came up to ask a question immediately after my talk at the East Kootenay science fair – I was impressed by his question and also how intently he listened to my answer. Perhaps a future astronaut or maybe a rocket scientist?

Thank you to Zachary and all the other kids for being active members of the Mars Generation!


Orion Launch Interview With Kare 11 [Video]

This past week I was interviewed about my attendance of the Expedition Flight Test 1 launch of Orion by Lindsey Seavert from Kare 11 News (NBC). Lindsey has been following my journey to Mars these past few years and I feel fortunate to have her help tell my story. You can watch the interview below or if you prefer to read the story you can click here.

To view Lindsey’s first interview with me, about my Soyuz Adventure from March 2013, please scroll to the bottom of the page.



My big news! Behind the scenes for the inaugural Orion Launch!

Aspiring astronaut

Exciting news! I’ve been invited to report on the December 4 inaugural Orion launch in Cape Canaveral. This opportunity is amazing, and I feel so lucky! Orion is the deep space vehicle I hope will one day take me to Mars. This journey gets more and more exciting as I grow older. Check out the press release below for more information on this exciting adventure and also to find out more about my future plans (hint, hint scroll to the bottom).

Thank you to everyone who continues to support me!

Astronaut Abby to attend NASA’s December 4 inaugural Orion launch: 17-year-old aspires to be in first manned crew to Mars

Minneapolis, November 19, 2014 – 

Abigail Harrison, 17, has been invited behind the scenes at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center to provide press coverage and commentary during the upcoming launch of Orion, atop a Delta IV Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex on December 4, 2014.

Considered the critical next step toward launching a manned mission to Mars, NASA’s Exploration Flight Test-1 will test instruments and systems aboard the deep space Orion capsule, including:

  • The durability of the next generation heat shield–the largest of its kind ever built
  • The launch abort system, developed by one of Harrison’s aerospace sponsors, ATK

“Orion is the United States’ next generation deep space vehicle,” explains Harrison. “Since the end of the Apollo program, human space exploration has been confined to low-Earth orbit. With Orion and heavy lift launch vehicles like Space Launch System, we will once again be capable of pushing human space exploration beyond this boundary.”

The Journey To Mars: Inspiring others along the way

Last year, Harrison traveled to Russia as a special guest of the European Space Agency and Italian Astronaut Luca Parmitano to be a part of a legendary Soyuz launch, Soyuz-TMA-09M. Since attending this launch, Harrison has created and run a worldwide outreach program to excite kids about space exploration, STEM learning and their own dreams. The program, named The Future of Space, consists of speaking engagements, visiting classrooms virtually and in person, writing articles and continuing to share her journey to Mars through her social media channels to over 200,000 supporters across Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

“Being at the Soyuz launch, seeing my mentor Astronaut Parmitano launch to the International Space Station–that was truly an awe-inspiring experience!” says Harrison.

Watching History Unfold: From Spectator to Participant

Watching Orion begin its maiden voyage will be another inspiring moment for Harrison, aligning closely with her personal mission:

“Orion is being engineered to safely transport crews to deep space destinations like the moon, Mars and eventually beyond,” she says. “Witnessing the first flight of Orion will be watching history itself unfold–a history which I am humbled to be part of, on my own mission to become one of the first crew members to journey to Mars.”

During the week of December 1-5, Harrison will be reporting from Cape Canaveral with SpaceFlight Insider, led by Senior Editor Jason Rhian. “Given her public speaking experience and her vast knowledge of all things aerospace, we’re proud to have Ms. Harrison on board to help conduct our on-site interviews and to be a part of our live mission newscast.” Her live coverage and updates can be found on and

“Ms. Harrison has consistently delivered on her commitment to achieve great things and to make a significant impact in her community,” says Sean Costello, owner of and one of Harrison’s reciprocal mentors. “I am ecstatic to hear that Abby will not only get to witness the historic first flight of Orion–what I believe to be her future vehicle–but also that she has been recognized as being intelligent and experienced enough to report on it.”

Harrison is currently completing her senior year of high school at the University of Minnesota and will graduate from South High School in Minneapolis, Minn. with honors in the spring of 2015. Harrison is applying to Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, MIT and many other high-ranking schools.

For interviews, photos or further information contact:
Nicole Harrison

Sharing My Space Camp Experiences With Johns Hopkins’ Imagine Magazine

Astronaut Abby ImagineExciting news! John’s Hopkins Center for Talented Youth Imagine magazine asked me to write about my experiences at Space Camp. It is an incredible honor to write and share my passion for space for the September/October 2014 issue. I was excited to write about it and hopefully inspire other kids everywhere else to dream and to follow their passion–whatever it may be.

My interest in space began when I was five years old and from then on, it grew. When I was in seventh grade, I was able to attend a Space Camp center in Huntsville, Alabama and I knew I had to go back as soon as I could. It wasn’t until a few years afterward that I saved enough to attend the Advanced Space Academy for high school juniors and seniors. The camp was everything I dreamed of and exceeded my expectations!

We were all divided into groups of 16 and we worked, ate and traveled together. Besides the fun and games, we did plenty of work, too. Some of what we did included working on projects with limited time and resources within 24-hour simulations. The simulations were full of anomalies, which tested our ability to think and solve problems quickly. One of my simulations involved the “Christmas tree,” in which our whole system’s warning console lit up due to an electrical error. After 24 hours, you’ve been through an experience that felt like anything but just a simulation.

My time at Space Camp allowed me to not only be challenged as an astronaut but also reinforced my passion and determination to become one in the future. My experiences were educational and exhilarating, and I would recommend Space Camp for everyone who is aspiring to have a future in space.

I hope you enjoy the article and will pass it along to your friends!

Thank you for your continued support,

Astronaut Abby

My East Coast College Tour: MIT, Harvard, Yale and more!


I was incredibly fortunate to go out east at the beginning of the school year to tour a few colleges. It started with me expressing interest in MIT and my mom saying “well if you are interested in MIT I guess we better make sure you have a chance to see the campus.” This is typical of how one of our adventures starts. I say I have an interest and my mom pops in with “well be better go do that, experience that or check that out.” If you have been following my journey these past few years you probably already know this from our past adventures including but not limited to: Attending the second to last shuttle launch in 2011, attending the tweetup at the Canadian Space Agency for the last shuttle launch in 2011, our trip to the 40th Anniversary Apollo 17 event in 2012, our trip to Russia to witness my mentor Luca Parmitano’s Soyuz launch to the International Space Station in 2013 or any other numerous things that I have been so fortunate to attend. These things typically start with a conversation and then my mom doing whatever she can to make them happen.

I think it’s important to mention I come from a single parent family and we are not wealthy. My mom has sacrificed a lot to give me these opportunities. She has always put my dreams first and tried to give me experiences that will continue to inspire me to reach for the stars. The college tour out east was a way for her to encourage me to reach high and believe in myself. I expected to see MIT and a few other schools and come home with more excitement about MIT and the possibilities. But this trip became so much more!

My mom of course decided if we were going to go out east I should see more than just MIT and with that a true Astronaut Abby adventure was born. This was no ordinary college tour. My mom arranged not only for me to see some of the most formidable schools in the world, but also to give me an experience of what my future may be like. She arranged for me to spend a day at Harvard in their Neursciences labs with neuroscience PhD candidate and my new mentor Mike Bukwich. How did she do this? Through a chance meeting my mom met Mike while traveling in Amsterdam. Through conversation my mom found out that Mike was a PhD candidate at Harvard working in the neuroscience labs. My mom told Mike about me and asked if he would meet with me for coffee when we visited Boston. Mike not only agreed but planned an entire day for me. Mike showing me his work, introducing me to his colleagues and gave me advice for my future. This was an incredibly gift and one I am very thankful for.

AA Harvard

Harvard PhD candidate Mike Bukwich showing me some of his lab research. Visiting Harvard and seeing many of their top research facilities was definitely a highlight of my trip!

My visit to Harvard, MIT, Yale and several other schools opened up the world to me. I had never thought of going to an Ivy League School, but the exposure showed me that indeed this was a possibility. I am now working on my applying to Harvard, Yale, MIT, Princeton, Williams and several other east coast schools as well as a few mid-west and west coast schools. It is exciting to not only apply, but to consider my steps after college when I move towards my own goals of being a scientist and someday an astronaut. Thank you to Mike for spending the time to mentor me and advise me as I move ahead, thank you to Mike’s colleagues who also spent time with me and advised me and to the wonderful hospitality I encountered at all the schools I toured while visiting the Boston area. And a big thank you to my mom for making this trip a possibility and always investing in my dreams. Also I want to thank a supporter of mine Richard, who I met during my Soyuz Adventure and has been an ongoing supporter of helping me pursue my dreams.


AA Yale

We initially were planning on staying in the Boston area for the college tour (believe me there are plenty of schools in Boston to view) but my mom decided that we were too close to Yale University not to take a road trip. I am so happy we did! Yale is an incredible school and is now one of my top choices. Had we not visited I may not have seen first hand how this school remains number one around the world.