New Go For Launch! Event Manager

Go For Launch! Lakeland

Mission Complete!

Help Higher Orbits continue to provide these GO FOR LAUNCH! events. Your donation ensures that our organization continues to excite and educate children about SPACE and STEM!

Presenting Team

Nicole Stott is a veteran of 2 spaceflights and 104 days living and working in space on both the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station (ISS). Highlights of her spaceflight missions include 3 Space Shuttle flights (STS128, STS129, STS133), 2 ISS Expeditions (20 & 21), 1 spacewalk, flying the robotic arm for the first track and capture of the free flying Japanese HTV cargo vehicle, a wide variety of science and research activities, installation and first run on the C.O.L.B.E.R.T. treadmill, and ISS maintenance.  She was the last ISS crewmember to return to Earth on a Space Shuttle. Nicole’s 28 year NASA career started at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida where she worked as an engineer and manager for the Space Shuttle and ISS programs. Nicole gained valuable hands-on, operational experience with the actual spaceflight hardware and worked alongside the team of people responsible for the “care and feeding” of the vehicles. Prior to being selected as an Astronaut, Nicole worked for 2 years at the Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston as a Flight Simulation Engineer (FSE) in the NASA Aircraft Operations Division.  As an FSE she flew as a crewmember onboard the Shuttle Training Aircraft (STA) helping to train astronaut pilots to fly the Space Shuttle. She also flew a range of other missions in the NASA T38’s and the KC135 (“Vomit Comet”). Nicole was selected as an Astronaut in 2000 ~ one of 17 members of the 18th group of NASA Astronauts, call sign “The Bugs”.

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Michelle Lucas spent 10+ years working at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. First as part of the International Space Station (ISS) Payload Safety Review Panel (PSRP) and then in the Mission Operations Directorate as a Flight Controller in ISS Mission Control and as an Astronaut Instructor in the ISS Daily Operations Group. Additionally, she worked with each of the International Partners (European Space Agency – ESA, Japanese Space Agency – JAXA, and the Russian Space Agency) in the field of Daily Operations, Flight Controller, and Instructor Training. Michelle was part of the Core NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) team for 9 missions where astronauts would carry out analog space missions underwater in the Aquarius habitat. Along the way, Michelle found she has a passion for launching the next generation’s dreams and ambitions. Her passion for inspiring students led to extensive work with other organizations in STEM outreach so she founded the non-profit Higher Orbits to use space to excite and inspire students about STEM, Leadership, Teamwork, and Communication. Michelle is proud to be a Space Camp Alum, AIAA Associate Fellow, and member of the Space Camp Hall of Fame. She believes that collaboration in space and STEM is the key to the stars! Space Inspires!

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Dr. MacKunis is currently an Associate Professor and Undergraduate Program Coordinator for Engineering Physics at Embry-Riddle’s Daytona Beach campus. He has extensive experience with control system engineering for mechanical and aerospace systems and dynamics and control of fluid flow systems.William MacKunis received his Ph.D. degree in 2009 from the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Florida (UF) as a UF Alumni Fellow. After completing his doctoral studies, he was selected as a National Research Council (NRC) Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Air Force Research Laboratory Munitions Directorate at Eglin Air Force Base, where he worked in the Guidance and Navigation Division. In 2010, Dr. MacKunis joined the faculty of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in the Department of Physical Sciences, where he is currently an associate professor and the Engineering Physics Undergraduate Program Coordinator. His main research is in the development and application of Lyapunov-based control techniques for mechanical and aerospace systems with uncertain nonlinear dynamic models. Dr. MacKunis’ research has involved numerous control applications, including guidance and navigation of satellites, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), wheeled mobile robots, hypersonic vehicles, missile guidance systems, vibration suppression systems, neural networks, photovoltaic power systems, and closed-loop active flow control. He is the co-author of two book chapters and over 90 refereed journal articles and conference papers. His work has been recognized by NASA, NSF, and by the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Air Force Summer Faculty Fellowship Award (2011-2013). He is currently or has served as an associate editor for the IEEE Control Systems Society (CSS) Editorial Board and Journal of Control Science and Engineering.​List of publications:

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Assistant Professor & Wessel Fellow, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical UniversityVisiting Scholar, NASA Ames Research Center, Blue Marble Space Institute of SciencesCollege of Arts & Sciences (COAS) 401.02, 1 Aerospace Blvd., Daytona Beach, FL 32114Omics Lab for Health & Human Performance, Department of Humans ;​Amber M. Paul, is an Assistant Professor of Aerospace Physiology and Embry-Riddle Wessel Fellow at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Dr. Paul received her BSc in Immunology from the University of Alberta, Canada and Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the University of Southern Mississippi. She completed her postdoctoral training at NASA Ames Research Center (ARC) as a Universities Space Research Association (USRA) fellow and was part of the science team that flew the Multi-Use Variable Gravity Platform, MVP-Techshot (MVP-FLY-01) SpaceX-14 mission. Dr. Paul is currently a co-Investigator on a NASA's Human Research Program funded grant and is affiliated with NASA ARC as a Visiting Scholar through Blue Marble Space Institute of Sciences (BMSIS). She is a member of the American Astronautical Society, Radiation Research Society, NASA GeneLab Animal and Educational working groups, American Society for Gravitational and Space Research (ASGSR), and American Association of Immunologists. She is also a Canadian Space Ambassador for the Canadian Space Agency. She is currently co-leading the Omics Lab for Health and Human Performance at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Dr. Paul's research focuses on immunity and neuroendocrine crosstalk in extreme environmental conditions and is interested in how physiological stress in both acute and chronic settings impacts immunity and nervous system function. Her goal is to identify signaling pathways involved and develop countermeasures that can circumvent these impacts.

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Presented in Partnership with…

Supported by Sponsors:

Solar System Explorer

Mars Rovers

Lunar Colonists

Intergalactic Voyagers

Event Location Details

Aerospace Center for Excellence

4175 Medulla Road 

Lakeland, FL, 33811

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