Higher Orbits in Australia

On February 2, 2019, we announced the 5 student participants who will be sent to Sydney, Australia this summer from July 2-21 to participate in the International Space School (ISS) at the University of Sydney. Today, we want to introduce these winners to you all!

Meet Zach Pickerel! Zach has been in 3 Go For Launch! events so far – Fort Collins 2017, ULA Denver 2018, and Fort Collins 2019. His interests are split between science and art. He participates in the Bioscience Career Academy, which involves bioscience-specific coursework, extracurricular learning opportunities, and volunteering.

Zach also enjoys music and theatre. He participates in several ensembles in and out of school. He enjoys puppetry and set design work for theater productions.

The astronaut he’d most like to meet is Michael Collins.

“He experienced one of the most extraordinary things that man has ever seen. He had lost all contact with any other humans with no possibility for communication while orbiting the moon. I think that took a fantastic amount of strength, and I think it would be an amazing opportunity to meet and talk with him.”

Meet Leia Spaniak! She has also been a part of 3 Go For Launch! events so far – Deerfield 2017, Highland Park 2018, and Spring Grove 2018. Animals, especially her dogs Indy and Hollywood and her cat Aspen, are also a huge part of her life. She enjoys horseback riding and has volunteered at a local therapy barn which helps kids develop better motor skills while on a horse.

She has had a passion for space since she was very little.

“I have always found interest in space, even when I was a toddler. I remember my dad reading to me about the stars and planets and asteroids. I continued to ask questions and developed an even greater appreciation for space. But when I was in third or fourth grade, I started watching documentaries and cosmology shows on the Science Channel. I continued to do that every Monday night until I discovered Higher Orbits.”

Meet Abigail Youngker! She has been involved with Go For Launch! events for the past 2 years at the Gilbert 2017 & 2018 events. She could always be found playing in the ditches and showing livestock in her free time. Whenever she wasn’t outside looking for trouble with her older siblings, you could find Abi with her nose in a book somewhere in her childhood home. She is currently a captain and goalie for her lacrosse team and is completely in love with the sport.

While in Australia, Abigail plans on making the most out of the program and her free time.

“While attending ISS 2019, I’m looking forward to the lectures we are going to be hearing. As a junior, the reality of graduation and plans for college are really hitting my hard, so I’d love to hear and see how others found their footing in the space/science fields.

During my downtime, I’m honestly so excited to sight-see a bit. I’m showing up in Australia with a blank camera roll full of space to take endless pictures. I also hope that we will somehow be able to go to the Australia Zoo. Growing up, I watched Steve Irwin’s Crocodile Hunter every week with my brother. He and his family became role models to us and Crocodile Hunter is the reason that we both now have a passion for animals. It would just really be amazing to visit the zoo Bindi, Robert, and Terri Irwin are a part of.”

Meet Jamison Fuller! He attended the Durham 2018 Go For Launch! event as a part of Team Orion and was able to have his team’s experiment conducted on the ISS this past winter. He enjoys and has been playing the piano for more than a decade. He plays basketball for his school team “The Golden Hawks” as a shooting guard and point guard, and he also plays soccer for his school and travel team in the position of striker. He also enjoys the outdoors, including fishing and bow hunting with his father when time allows. His favorite past-time is playing videogames over the weekend.

He is very ambitious, a stellar student, and has set many goals for himself.

“My favorite class is math, which also happens to be my strongest subject. Last year, I had a GPA of 4.3 and this year I have a GPA of 4.1.I am interested in pursuing a career in aerospace engineering. The three main colleges I am looking at to attend after graduation are NC State, NC A&T, and UNC Charlotte.”

Meet Caroline Wenks! She is sophomore from Northern Virginia and is rocking this spacesuit from a recent Go For Launch! event! She most recently participated in the Loudon 2019 Go For Launch! event. She was originally born in Germany and is a self-proclaimed “Citizen of the Earth.” She has moved around a lot in her life since growing up in an Air Force family. One day, Caroline hopes to attend Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University to study engineering.

Of all the astronauts, Sally Ride made the most impact on Caroline.

“My favorite astronaut is Sally Ride. As the first American woman in space, she is a great inspiration to me.

She made great strides in the Women’s Movement, proving that women are capable of as much as men are, and that, if qualified, they deserve the same position and pay as a man qualified for the job would. She was a physicist, engineer, and had a degree in English as well (communication skills are vital, especially in the science community), and I am interested in all three of those subjects and I’m considering degrees in them.”

We look forward to the amazing things these intelligent and dedicated students will learn and accomplish during their time at the ISS this summer in Australia!

(This blog was authored by our out of this world intern Haylie!)


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