STEM Education Archives - Astronaut Abby

Speaking at Space Camp: It’s Happening!

Space Camp Speaker Astronaut Abby

Here I am practicing my new talk that I will be giving this week and next week to all the kids at Space Camp. It’s titled “The Mars Generation: It’s Our Time”.

I have exciting news that some of you may already be aware of as you follow my social media channels. I am at Space Camp for the next two weeks! This was an unexpected and very welcome addition to my summer schedule. I was not even aware of this until a week ago because I was away at Russian Immersion Camp for part of June and July. Space Camp has invited me down to give my new talk titled “The Mars Generation: It’s Our Time” to all the campers here this week and next week. That’s over 400 campers each week!

Being invited to give an inspirational talk at Space Camp is such an honor. They often have astronauts and engineers and other cool space professionals speak. I am their youngest speaker, which is pretty cool! Being an alumni of Space Camp, and the fact that I am about to leave for college and start the real work towards becoming a PhD scientist and also preparing to apply for the NASA astronaut corps in about 10 years, it’s great to be able to give back to a place that has given me so much over the years.

Space Camp is a special place, a place that I was lucky enough to attend when I was 12 years old because of a nonprofit in Minneapolis called Reach for the Stars. This nonprofit selects 60 kids from a pool of applicants to join them at Space Camp. They run a program for 6 months prior to leaving for camp where bi-weekly the kids meet on a Saturday afternoon for 4 hours to do fun space related stuff and learn more to prepare for Space Camp. They also have an all-go or no-one-goes fundraising approach – which means every family commits privately to what they can pay and then the group fundraises for the remainder amount and everyone goes regardless of their financial means. For me this was a dream come true.

I approached my mom around the age of 11 with the website for Space Camp and was so excited that it existed. She told me she had found this a few years ago when searching for space related activities for me but that it was just too expensive. She was a single mom, and I have an older sister, so the budget had to incorporate both of our needs. She said we would need to wait and see if she could save the money to send me in a few years. And then someone sent her an email about Reach for the Stars, and I applied and got accepted! After attending the first year I babysat all the time to attend every year after – Paying 100% of the cost of the next year’s space camp. After that, my mom agreed to pay 50% every year that I wanted to go and I babysat and saved all year every year to pay the rest.

Now I am here to speak, and I can’t wait! The future of space is here, today now with my generation, the Mars Generation. Any person under the age of 25 is part of the Mars Generation, and I can’t wait to inspire this group of space enthusiasts about our future. Stay tuned for updates. I will eventually post on my YouTube a video that thanks to an amazing Time Magazine Documentary crew, will be recorded! The future is ours! Let’s get to Mars!

Welcome New Maker Astronaut Cady Coleman

Maker Cady Coleman

During the Maker about Cady Coleman titled “It Just Says Space”, Cady talks about growing her hair out to go to space. Watch it now!

Last week the Makers website launched a new Maker, Astronaut Cady Coleman. Cady joins Makers Astronauts: Ellen Ochoa, Mae Jemison, Julie Payette and Eileen Collins. It was such an honor to be asked if I would like to be featured on the blog in an interview titled “Get to know Astronaut Abby” to compliment introducing Cady as a maker and also to be part of their #MakeSpaceForWomen conversation. I look forward to helping to continue the #MakeSpaceForWomen conversation and also someday joining Cady and all the Makers by becoming a Maker as well.

What is Makers you ask?

MAKERS is a digital and video storytelling platform that is the largest and most dynamic collection of women’s stories ever assembled. Launched in 2012 now features over 2,900 videos and more than 270 women, with new MAKERS launching each week on MAKERS Mondays. About

Want to learn more about Makers? Watch the video below:

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 and my generation, The Mars Generation, 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