Contact: Michelle Lucas

Higher Orbits



Nonprofit Brings Astronaut to Louisville & Uses Space Exploration to Foster Student Engagement in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math

May 3, 2016Leesburg, Va.Higher Orbits will host Go For Launch! at Kentucky Science Center August 1-3, 2016. High school aged students in the Louisville area will have the opportunity to participate in the three-day program that uses space exploration as a platform to launch student engagement in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), STEAM (Art), teamwork, communication, and leadership.


Through their participation in Go For Launch! students learn about human spaceflight and receive insight and feedback through a variety of talks delivered by experienced space and STEM professionals. Speakers scheduled to participate in this event include retired Astronaut Don Thomas, former ISS Flight Controller and Astronaut Instructor Michelle Lucas, Space Tango President Twyman Clements, Ellie Puckett Directors of Business Operations Space Tango, Space Enthusiast & Educator Katie Kubitskey, and Dr. Julia Aebersold. The goal is to illustrate the numerous opportunities that exist in STEM-related careers.


“If we are ever going to send humans to Mars and to other deep space destinations in the decades ahead, we will need a strong workforce skilled in STEM disciplines. Through excellent programs like Go For Launch! provided by Higher Orbits, we are working to excite and inspire young students today to “reach for the stars” and pursue careers in STEM” said Astronaut (Retired) Don Thomas. “Besides being both fun and educational, these programs help make sure our students will have the leadership, teamwork, and communications skills needed to undertake the exploration missions of tomorrow. I am looking forward to “landing” at the Kentucky Science Center in Louisville and meeting some of our future STEMists and explorers!”


Students will participate in collaborative activities and develop the idea for a space experiment, which they will present to a panel of judges in the space and STEM fields (including an astronaut.) The judges will choose a winner at each Go For Launch! event. Winners from each event in the division will compete for the divisional title and those winners will have their experiments launched into space.


“As someone who grew up in love with space travel but without many options to have interactions where I could learn more,” said Michelle Lucas, Founder of Higher Orbits, “I’m excited to be able to bring the Go For Launch! program right to students in their hometown areas. Space inspires and I can’t wait to share that message with the students Kentucky.”


Go For Launch! will run August 1-3, 2016 for high school aged students and will be held at Kentucky Science Center. Registration for students is $250 and includes all supplies, snacks, and meals. To register, or for more information, please visit


“Just when the allure of space exploration is being rekindled with exciting projects Iike New Horizons, we are thrilled to be a part of amazing and inspiring programs like ‘Go For Launch!” says Mellisa Blankenship, Senior Manager of Fee-Based and Partnership Initiatives at Kentucky Science Center.


Go For Launch! Louisville is made possible in part by local sponsors My World Travel, Hampton Inn Downtown Louisville, Louisville Water, BBC, Craft House and Heine Brother’s Coffee. Higher Orbits is supported by Intergalactic Sponsors: Space Tango, Kentucky Space, and eddi who help make all Go For Launch! events possible. Sponsorship opportunities are still available at various levels for this specific event, divisions, or the overall program. For more details please contact Michelle Lucas at or call 707-893-STAR.

About Higher Orbits

Higher Orbits is a 501(c)3 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 launch pad to excite students of all ages about STEM and working to fulfill their dreams and ambitions. Higher Orbits uses a variety of programs and partnerships with other organizations to achieve these goals. To learn more visit


About Astronaut (Retired) Don Thomas

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, STS-65, STS-70, STS-83 and STS-94, he has logged over 1,040 hours in space as a Mission Specialist. To learn more visit


About Kentucky Science Center

The Kentucky Science Center is a nonprofit educational institution that encourages people of all ages to enjoy science, mathematics and technology in a stimulating and engaging environment that is educational as well as entertaining. Designated the “State Science Center of Kentucky” by the 2002 Kentucky General Assembly, the Kentucky Science Center features interactive exhibits and engaging programs for children, families and adults. The Kentucky Science Center is committed to growing a scientifically literate community that investigates, questions, and challenges.


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