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

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.


Scholastic Choices Magazine Feature

I am so honored to be featured in Scholastic’s Choices Magazine! The magazine features inspiring stories of kids living their dreams and making a difference in the world. This is such an awesome resource for students. It’s also great for parents and teachers to help kids start exploring their career interests. You’re never too young to start working toward your goals!

In the issue, you can learn about my adventures and read the top three things I’ve learned about following my dreams.

Click here to view the entire issue. There are additional worksheets found in the interactive article:

Here is a PDF version: Abby Harrison the Astronaut

Astronaut Abby Scholastic Choices Magazine

New Moon Girls Magazine Feature

I am so honored to be featured in New Moon Girls, a magazine I loved as a young girl! Check out New Moon Girls here and consider ordering a subscription for your daughter ages 8-12 for the holidays. The magazine is about helping girls discover and honor their true selves, engage in meaningful pursuits and dialogue, and express their voices in ways that matter. Read the article below!


Webchat with Whittier and Carrollton Elementary, November 15

Today, I did a webchat with Mr. Dahl’s class 5th graders in Whittier Elementary in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and Mrs. King’s 3rd grade class at Carrollton Elementary in Carrollton, Virginia. Student webchats are so much fun! When I was in 5th grade, I was really inspired by my science teacher, so it was great to connect with current 5th graders!

The kids had awesome questions. We covered topics from space food, to gymnastics and pets. Some of my favorite questions were “Why do people explore space?” and “Have you ever tried on a space suit?” Watch the webchat to hear my answers! I loved our conversation! Thanks for a great webchat. Whittier and Carrollton Elementary students, you inspire me!