The Higher Orbits Mission

Higher Orbits is a non-profit with the mission of promoting Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM); along with leadership, teamwork, and communication through the use of spaceflight. Mankind’s journey into space serves as an ideal launchpad to excite students of all ages about STEM/STEAM and working to fulfill their dreams and ambitions while also building teamwork, leadership, and communication skills.

The Higher Orbits Team

Michelle Lucas

Founder & President of Higher Orbits

Michelle spent 10 years working at NASA primarily in International Space Station (ISS) Flight Control Operations Planning and as an Astronaut Instructor in the Daily Operations Group. Her passion for inspiring students led to extensive work with other organizations in STEM outreach. She then decided to form Higher Orbits to continue to work to inspire students about the wonders of STEM through spaceflight.

Board of Directors

Francis French
Francis French has over twenty years of global STEM education experience, primarily in informal learning situations such as science centers and museums. He is the former Director of Education for Sally Ride Sci[...]
Francis French has over twenty years of global STEM education experience, primarily in informal learning situations such as science centers and museums. He is the former Director of Education for Sally Ride Science, working directly for America's first woman in space to encourage middle school girls to explore STEM careers. He also served for over a decade as the Director of Education for the San Diego Air & Space Museum, creating innovative STEM programming for all ages. He is a bestselling space historian in the field of human space flight.
Bruce Barnes

Mr. Bruce Barnes is the founder of Bold Vision®, a senior consulting consortium of “C Level” e[...]

Mr. Bruce Barnes is the founder of Bold Vision®, a senior consulting consortium of “C Level” executives, focused on building an active and creative network of IT leaders devoted to sharing best practices, leveraging their strengths and perspectives, and raising the level of technical “literacy” within their own organizations.

Mr. Barnes has over forty years of experience as a senior level officer in the technology arena in multiple industry verticals, including very influential roles at the Fortune 100 level.  He has received numerous industry accolades, including past recognition as one of this country’s most noted CIOs.  He remains visible as a frequent and recognized voice at national industry events and in major industry publications.  He continues to be an executive coach and advisor to a number of noted senior executives.

He is also the co-founder and on-going co-producer for the industry acclaimed CIO Solutions Gallery™" series, nationally HQ’d out of The Ohio State University’s College of Engineering, and also delivered through a number of other locations across the country.   Mr. Barnes is also a graduate of The Ohio State University, where he now also serves on the faculty as a Senior Lecturer in its Fisher College of Business.

Frank Divers
Co-Founder & CEO of Estate Documents Pro, LLC Founder and CEO Business Development Specialists, Inc. Frank is a seasoned business veteran and entrepreneur with extensive experience at all levels of the c[...]
Co-Founder & CEO of Estate Documents Pro, LLC Founder and CEO Business Development Specialists, Inc. Frank is a seasoned business veteran and entrepreneur with extensive experience at all levels of the corporate enterprise. Spanning the past 40-years, Frank founded seven companies encompassing business disciplines ranging from manufacturing to setting up national sales and distribution programs for products and services.Frank’s accomplishments include conceptualizing and launching one of the first sports talk health-related radio programs in the U.S. Frank also founded and led to market prominence one of the first direct response television infomercial production and sales companies in the U.S. and founded an Internet based business featuring Legendary National Football League Hall of Fame coach Tom Landry as it’s spokesperson.Community service is part of Frank’s philanthropic commitment. His involvements include serving as a board member of the Arizona Chapter of the American Red Cross and as the Chairman of the 2016-17 Fiesta Bowl Committee.
Gregory H. Johnson
Greg H. Johnson a decorated fighter pilot, test pilot and Astronaut, flew as the Pilot of STS-123 (delivering the first part of the Japanese module Kibo to the International Space Station) and STS-134 (the fina[...]
Greg H. Johnson a decorated fighter pilot, test pilot and Astronaut, flew as the Pilot of STS-123 (delivering the first part of the Japanese module Kibo to the International Space Station) and STS-134 (the final flight of Endeavour) and has completed nearly 500 orbits of Earth. Former President and Executive Director of the Center for Advancement of Science in Space, Johnson is vey familiar with science aboard the International Space Station. He is a huge advocate of STEM for students and is excited to be part of the Go For Launch! team for the first time.
Gillian O’Neil
Gillian O’Neil Founder and Joint CEO, 29studios a dynamic and progressive Video Marketing Agency. I am strategically directing the growth and expansion strategy of the company. Helping our [...]
Gillian O’Neil Founder and Joint CEO, 29studios a dynamic and progressive Video Marketing Agency. I am strategically directing the growth and expansion strategy of the company. Helping our clients to excel in their market. With an impressive client portfolio, Internationally with our pioneering Make Intelligent Video, offering Presentation Tool Kit & Video Campaigns we can ensure that our clients vision is translated into clear measurable goals.With an insane focus on Commercial Strategy, I and driving the business through growth, through Client Centricity whilst ensuring Agency performance.I am lead Strategist within the company and directing the growth and expansion strategy of the company. With a fully integrated creative digital offering we can ensure that our clients vision is translated into their communication strategy.
Paul Colosky
Paul Colosky Jr is an entrepreneur in the physical therapy, wellness, and fitness industries, and is the owner of Valeo Human Performance, LLC in Houston, TX. His experience in exercise science, athletic traini[...]
Paul Colosky Jr is an entrepreneur in the physical therapy, wellness, and fitness industries, and is the owner of Valeo Human Performance, LLC in Houston, TX. His experience in exercise science, athletic training, and microgravity research and parabolic flight resulted in NASA funding to develop and patent the award-winning Constant Force Resistive Exercise Unit (CFREU), for use in maintaining bone and muscle health in space. He is currently active in treating clients and mentoring students at Valeo Physical Therapy, the clinic he’s owned since 2007, where he uses advanced, non-traditional treatment techniques such as cold laser therapy and whole body cryotherapy in his daily practice across all populations. Paul readily accepts professional challenges as a means to learn and grow, believes in seeking alternative methods to problem-solving, and asserts that if you’re not doing what you love, you need to try something different!
Dr. Gary Morris
Gary Morris earned his Ph.D. in Space Physics & Astronomy from Rice University, worked as a post-doctoral researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, then studied transport of air pollution from Chi[...]
Gary Morris earned his Ph.D. in Space Physics & Astronomy from Rice University, worked as a post-doctoral researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, then studied transport of air pollution from China to Japan on a Fulbright Scholar grant. He arrived at St. Edwards in July 2014 as Dean of Natural Sciences and Professor of Physics.
Christina Tyler Wenks
Christina Tyler Wenks is an adjunct professor of journalism and public relations at George Mason University. The writer and editor has diverse media experience, including the Executive Office of the President[...]
Christina Tyler Wenks is an adjunct professor of journalism and public relations at George Mason University. The writer and editor has diverse media experience, including the Executive Office of the President at the White House and the Library of Congress Public Affairs Office. Prior to Capitol Hill, Wenks was a television news reporter, anchor, videographer, and editor. Her work has been featured on NBC, ABC, CNN, and MTV. She was a newspaper copy editor, website manager and wrote and produced radio news. Her favorite stories are told through people, require simplifying complicated issues that many peers don't want to cover and getting dirty. Throughout her career, Wenks has worked to encourage and mentor student writers, encouraged STEAM education, and volunteered in her community.
Kev O’Neil
Kev O’Neil, Founder and Joint CEO, Designer, Entrepreneur, Presenter, Founder and CEO of 29studios a successful Video Marketing Agency specialising in Video Campaigns and Presentation Toolki[...]
Kev O’Neil, Founder and Joint CEO, Designer, Entrepreneur, Presenter, Founder and CEO of 29studios a successful Video Marketing Agency specialising in Video Campaigns and Presentation Toolkits that drive sales for your business through strategy, content, distribution & analytics.I have crafted every company I've started based on insight and knowledge. With an instinctive ability to guide businesses in adopting emerging trends, I have pioneered change-culture in all my entrepreneurial ventures.Recognising the huge importance of engaging with your audience to get results, I drive the 29ERS to consistently deliver the most innovative and effective video marketing solutions.

Advisory Board Members

Katie Kubitskey
Katie Kubitskey is a Louisville native and owner of a boutique travel planning company, My World Travel. Additionally, she currently works in Marketing and PR for Louisville Tourism. Prior to these career ven[...]
Katie Kubitskey is a Louisville native and owner of a boutique travel planning company, My World Travel. Additionally, she currently works in Marketing and PR for Louisville Tourism. Prior to these career ventures, she obtained a Masters Degree in Religion & Politics and worked in the hospitality world for many many years. In her free time, she enjoys exploring every corner of the globe, cooking and owning too many cats.
Jon Hutman
Jon Hutman presently resides in Chandler, Arizona where he serves as the Head of School (HOS) at BASIS Mesa. Before taking the role of HOS, Jon taught science in a variety of classroom settings for over a dec[...]
Jon Hutman presently resides in Chandler, Arizona where he serves as the Head of School (HOS) at BASIS Mesa. Before taking the role of HOS, Jon taught science in a variety of classroom settings for over a decade. During his time in the classroom, Jon enjoyed bringing space inspired STEM activities and lessons to his students and school community. Jon is a graduate of Honeywell's Space Camp for Educators, and he was also recognized as the Teacher of the Year 2011. Jon became a member of NASA's Solar System Ambassador Program in 2012 and an OSIRIS-Rex Ambassador in 2016. As an ambassador, Jon provides a variety of mission specific presentations, hosts events, and shares current information about space exploration for his local community.
Mark Jordan
Mark Jordan teaches Aerospace Engineering at Mesquite High School in Gilbert, Arizona. His love of space and aerospace engineering can be traced back to his childhood where he grew up on a farm at the end of [...]
Mark Jordan teaches Aerospace Engineering at Mesquite High School in Gilbert, Arizona. His love of space and aerospace engineering can be traced back to his childhood where he grew up on a farm at the end of the runway at Luke Air Force base. This year Mark is celebrating his 19th year as a proud public educator.
Jennifer Cheesman
Jennifer Cheesman has completed 23 years of classroom teaching while spending summers absorbing new ideas for her classroom. Ms. Cheesman sponsors Student Council as well as a chairman for her schools’ annu[...]
Jennifer Cheesman has completed 23 years of classroom teaching while spending summers absorbing new ideas for her classroom. Ms. Cheesman sponsors Student Council as well as a chairman for her schools’ annual STEM night which draws over 600 students, parents and community members. She has a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education with an emphasis in Bilingual Multicultural Education. She has lived in New York, Puerto Rico and now makes her home in Phoenix, Arizona. She spent three summers as an educator crew trainer at the US Space and Rocket Center training educators in STEM education from all over the world. She has served as the summer camp manager at the Arizona Challenger Space Center. Recently, Jennifer has worked as a professional development instructional assistant for NASA Johnson Space Center. In October 2017, Ms. Cheesman completed her Masters degree in Education specializing in Curriculum and Instruction. During SEEC 2018, she was presented with the Cheri Brinley Outstanding Educator Award by Space Center Houston. She was awarded the Frank Luke Aerospace Teacher of the Year and the Arizona Elementary Aerospace Teacher of the Year in April 2018. Her goal is to break down the walls of science so her students see that science happens all around them.
Tom Stugmyer
A Wadsworth City Councilman at Large, Tom serves on Economic Development, the City Service Commission, and Cemetery Board for the City of Wadsworth. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics/Astronomy [...]
A Wadsworth City Councilman at Large, Tom serves on Economic Development, the City Service Commission, and Cemetery Board for the City of Wadsworth. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics/Astronomy & Mathematics from the University of Mount Union & has been a resident of Wadsworth for over 35 years. Tom serves on the board of directors of the Wadsworth Area Chamber of Commerce, & the Wadsworth Salvation Army. He also served as interim Executive Director for Main Street Wadsworth and continues to serve that organization as the VP on the board of directors as well as Economic development and event coordinator. He is involved with Wadsworth Community Radio as an on air personality along with remote broadcasts, on air production, sports broadcasting, as well as all studio engineering. He is on the board of the Wadsworth Lions, Wadsworth Grizzly Community Foundation along with many other community organizations throughout Wadsworth & Medina county. Tom is also a photographer, videographer, & graphic designer here in the NE Ohio area.
Meredith Loew
Meredith graduated from Virginia Tech before moving to San Diego to pursue a career in the aerospace industry with Northrop Grumman. She has had a passion for space since she went to Space Camp on a fieldtrip[...]
Meredith graduated from Virginia Tech before moving to San Diego to pursue a career in the aerospace industry with Northrop Grumman. She has had a passion for space since she went to Space Camp on a fieldtrip in the 6 th grade, and loves sharing her interest in space with others. She hopes to one day train the next generation of astronauts and looks forward to getting more students engaged in learning about space.
Larry Bryant
Following ten years of tracking satellites in the Air Force Satellite Control Facility and National Reconnaissance Office, Larry moved on to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Developing and implementi[...]
Following ten years of tracking satellites in the Air Force Satellite Control Facility and National Reconnaissance Office, Larry moved on to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Developing and implementing a structured systems training program for the Mission Operations System teams of JPL’s flight projects occupied his time for his first 23 years at JPL. Larry spent the last 10+ years as Mission Operations Assurance Manager on Phoenix, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Mars Exploration Rovers, NEOWISE, Juno, and Grace Follow- On flight projects at JPL.
Vincent Vazzo
Vincent spent the final years of the Space Shuttle program working for United Space Alliance (USA) as part of the Engineering Photographic Analysis Team at the Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC). Vincent helpe[...]
Vincent spent the final years of the Space Shuttle program working for United Space Alliance (USA) as part of the Engineering Photographic Analysis Team at the Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC). Vincent helped with the post-launch analysis of Shuttle film and video as well as software development to aid the workflow involved in analyzing launch footage for potential issues and anomalies. Today he is back at MSFC working on software with Optical Sciences Corporation (OSC) to help NASA analyze and organize data from rocket engine tests.
Tim Gagnon
A life long artist, Tim is the former Director of the Young Astronaut Program at Divine Mercy Catholic School in Merritt Island, FL. Since designing the emblem for the Expedition 11 mission to the ISS in 2004, [...]
A life long artist, Tim is the former Director of the Young Astronaut Program at Divine Mercy Catholic School in Merritt Island, FL. Since designing the emblem for the Expedition 11 mission to the ISS in 2004, Tim has contributed artwork to over a dozen NASA mission patches.
Jayme Sliger
Jayme’s background includes working with children through their formative years, from daycare to high school. Jayme has always been an avid enthusiast of the space program. She joined the NASA S&MA qualit[...]
Jayme’s background includes working with children through their formative years, from daycare to high school. Jayme has always been an avid enthusiast of the space program. She joined the NASA S&MA quality team at Johnson Space Center in 2008. Her principal task has been quality control in the Crew and Thermal Systems Division. She is currently working on her certification to sit console during testing of the viability of the suits in space.
Wendy Lawrence
Captain Wendy Lawrence is a retired naval aviator and NASA astronaut. As a helicopter pilot, she made several shipboard deployments to the North Atlantic, Indian Ocean and Kenya. After earning a master’s degr[...]
Captain Wendy Lawrence is a retired naval aviator and NASA astronaut. As a helicopter pilot, she made several shipboard deployments to the North Atlantic, Indian Ocean and Kenya. After earning a master’s degree in ocean engineering from MIT and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), Lawrence was selected as an astronaut in 1992 and worked at NASA for 14 years. A veteran of four shuttle missions (STS-67, 86, 91 and 114), she has logged over 50 days in space. Currently, she works part-time at Space Camp and the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, informing the public about NASA’s spaceflight programs and participating in STEM education programs.
Donald Thomas, PH.D.
Selected by NASA in January 1990, Dr. Thomas became an astronaut in July 1991. Dr. Thomas has served in the Safety, Operations Development, and Payloads Branches of the Astronaut Office. He was CAPCOM (spacecra[...]
Selected by NASA in January 1990, Dr. Thomas became an astronaut in July 1991. Dr. Thomas has served in the Safety, Operations Development, and Payloads Branches of the Astronaut Office. He was CAPCOM (spacecraft communicator) for Shuttle missions STS-47, 52 and 53. From July 1999 to June 2000 he was Director of Operations for NASA at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia. A veteran of four space flights, he has logged over 1,040 hours in space.
Mike Foreman
Mike Foreman brings 40 years of Federal Government service as a NASA astronaut, Naval Officer, Project Manager and Leader to the Higher Orbits Cislunar Baard. He holds multiple degrees in Engineering and is a d[...]
Mike Foreman brings 40 years of Federal Government service as a NASA astronaut, Naval Officer, Project Manager and Leader to the Higher Orbits Cislunar Baard. He holds multiple degrees in Engineering and is a distinguished graduate of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School. Mike has flown more than 7,000 hours in over 50 different aircraft. Career highlights include 17 years as a NASA Astronaut. Mike flew on two NASA Space Shuttle missions where he conducted five spacewalks totaling over 32 hours outside the vehicle performing International Space Station assembly tasks.
Hoot Gibson
Robert Lee "Hoot" Gibson is a retired Captain and Naval Aviator in the United States Navy and a retired NASA astronaut as well as a professional pilot whom currently races regularly at the annual Reno Air Races[...]
Robert Lee "Hoot" Gibson is a retired Captain and Naval Aviator in the United States Navy and a retired NASA astronaut as well as a professional pilot whom currently races regularly at the annual Reno Air Races.