By Linh Bui

BATON ROUGE, La. (WJZ) — NASA’s replacement for the retired space shuttle will take humans farther than ever before. The space launch system will travel to asteroids and eventually to Mars, which according to the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., NASA has been exploring with its MAVEN Spacecraft.

Linh Bui introduces us to one amazing young lady, who’s preparing herself for a seat on that mission.

Alyssa Carson is getting ready for a journey to Mars, even though she’s not even old enough to drive yet.

Thirteen-year-old Alyssa Carson wants to be an astronaut — a dream she’s had since the age of 3.

“I heard that humans have been to the moon, but nobody had been to Mars,” Alyssa said,” and I said that’s what I want to do. No one’s been there! That’s something I’ve never seen before!”

“Daddy, I want to be an astronaut and you think, OK, yeah astronaut, fireman, policeman–whatever, baby. You can be anything you want to be,” he dad, Bert Carson said.

Alyssa’s dad signed her up for space camp when she turned 7.

“I learned everything about space history. Everything NASA was doing then. Everything about Mars I wanted to know, including all the other planets — and it was pretty much the best long weekend of my life,” Alyssa said.

Alyssa has been to over 20 sessions of NASA Space Camp. She’s attended three space shuttle launches. She rubs shoulders with NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.

“Alyssa is a focuses and determined individual.” Dr. Deborah Barnhart, of the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, said. ” She is working on that goal, day after day. year after year.”

NASA hopes to launch a human mission to Mars around 2013, when Alyssa will be 29.

“Have you thought about what your first words will be when you step onto that soil,” CBS News Correspondent Vicente Arenas asks.

“I’ve been asked that a lot but I just don’t know what it is yet,” Alyssa said. ” That’s something I still have to think about.”

Until then Alyssa continues her small steps toward the red planet.

On Tuesday, NASA will share what its MAVEN Spacecraft has seen in its first few weeks in Mars.

The Louisiana teen is already looking at colleges, where she plans to study geology and biology. Alyssa also speaks four languages.

Linh Bui

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