No matter what level of expertise she gains, Alyssa’s most difficult challenges will be personal ones. She acknowledges that her application process for a Mars mission could be hindered by the decision to start a family. Both she and her father acknowledge the potential dangers of emotional “distractions” imperiling herself or her crew during her time away from Earth. After all, a return to our planet to rush to the side of an ailing loved one isn’t a journey she’d be able to make for some time — potentially years, if at all. That notion is particularly poignant for Bert.
“Best case scenario for me, I don’t see her for three years,” he says. “Worst case, something happens, or they go there and stay there to colonize Mars. It’s not easy as a parent. But at the same time, it’s her dream and it’s her passion, and she’s gotten me to realize how important this is for us to take that baby step for the human race. I realize this is bigger than the two of us and that I have to let her go.”
Some of these costs seem more inconsequential to Alyssa than others, at least at present. Assuming a return trip from Mars is possible, Alyssa has a good sense of humor about waiting until after the mission to pursue a family, assuming that’s something she’ll want. If all goes according to plan, she would be in her mid-30s at the time of her return, a perfectly fine time to “settle down” as any.
“I wouldn’t say I’d be ancient when I get back,” she jokes.