• Michelle

    Michelle Lucas

    Purdue University, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

    Michelle Lucas is a 1989, 1991 and 1994 alumna of Space Camp in Huntsville, former Space Camp Florida counselor and former NASA Johnson Space Center employee. Michelle spent 10 years working at NASA for a contractor on the Payload Safety Review Panel (PSRP), then in International Space Station (ISS) Flight Control as an Operations Planner and also as an Astronaut Instructor in the Daily Operations Group teaching astronauts about the Operations Local Area Network (Ops LAN) – the computer system, and the Inventory and Stowage System onboard ISS. During this time, Michelle trained nearly every astronaut in the corps for their expeditionary flight to ISS or their space shuttle flight to ISS. Michelle was also responsible for large portions of technical and basic instructional training for flight controllers and instructors not just in the U.S. but also at all of the International Partners. Additionally she was a Surface Support Team Member for NEEMO (NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations) and a Crew Monitor for ISS Simulations. A few years ago, Michelle decided that she has a passion for inspiring students and chose to leave her work at JSC to become an independent consultant. She is also Founder/President of Higher Orbits which is focused on inspiring students through space curriculum in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) subjects as well as launching their skills in leadership, team building and communications.


  • Abrams

    Stephanie Abrams

    BS, Florida State University and University of Florida

    For self-described science geek and adventure-seeker, Stephanie Abrams, Space Camp® was an obvious destination. She was hooked on science before Camp and well before attending college, but it would be the devastation of Hurricane Andrew in 1992 that would lead her to a meteorology class at the University of Florida and the true passion of her life…weather. Abrams joined the team at The Weather Channel shortly after college as an on-camera meteorologist and is now among the most recognized faces on television. Naturally gregarious, Stephanie is keenly aware of the unique platform she has to influence young people interested in STEM professions. She has artfully combined her passion, personality and social media savvy to extend both her appeal and reach in making science cool. Stephanie Abrams is known for her fearless approach to life and learning and happily shares her discoveries with the world.

  • Warren

    Lara Elisabeth Warren

    Ph.D., University of California Davis

    “Liz” Warren always knew she wanted to be an astronaut, a dream she pursues to this day. Her hallmark is that she is not just dreaming the dream, she is living it. Already passionate about space and science, Warren took away other critical life skills from Space Camp® – leadership and teamwork – and has applied them throughout an already brilliant career. Dr. Warren holds a Ph.D. in Molecular, Cellular and Integrative Physiology and is an expert at NASA Johnson Space Center, where she studies the effects of space flight on the human body. Today, Dr. Warren is the ISS Program Science Communications Lead working to communicate the research accomplishments of the International Space Station. Aside from contributing to the health, safety and comfort of the ISS crew, Warren spends about 100 volunteer hours every year speaking to students and teachers through NASA’s educational outreach efforts. Dr. Warren’s enthusiasm for space exploration is matched only by her devotion to inspiring the students now following her into a career in aerospace.

  • Vancise

    Edward A. Van Cise

    BS, University of Michigan

    “Right Stuff” recipient Ed Van Cise knew before his trip to Space Camp® that NASA would be the where of his future. But it was Apollo 16 Moonwalker Charlie Duke’s presentation at Camp that led him to the how and what. Van Cise left that week knowing that he wanted to be an Aerospace Engineer, and eventually work at Johnson Space Center in Mission Control. And not long after, that is exactly where he was. Van Cise committed to his path and is currently the 78th Flight Director in NASA’s history. Since taking the call sign “Carbon Flight,” Ed has worked as Lead Flight Director for several different aspects of the International Space Station. Edward Van Cise methodically pursued his dream, earning awards and commendations for leadership, as well as respect from his peers. He continues that dream, today, fully dedicated to NASA and the future of human space exploration.

  • hoot

    Captain Robert "Hoot" Gibson

    BS, California Polytechnic State University

    Retired U.S. Navy Captain and Space Shuttle Commander, Robert “Hoot” Gibson is an aeronautical engineer, test pilot, astronaut and world record holder, and among the very best friends of Space Camp® and Aviation Challenge®. A rare mixture of affability, self-effacing humor and a little hero swagger, combined with the authenticity that comes from living an exceptional life, Hoot is the real deal. Gibson is a veteran of five shuttle missions, a recipient of numerous honors, awards and decorations including the DOD Distinguished Service Medal, the Distinguished Flying Cross, and numerous international medals including the Yuri Gagarin Gold Medal, as well as a member of the Astronaut Hall of Fame. But, it isn’t Gibson’s resume that lands him in the Space Camp Hall of Fame. Instead it is his genuine, active dedication to its people and programs. Because he happily and effectively endorses Space Camp and Aviation Challenge selflessly offering his time and attention to any and all, Hoot Gibson is chief among our friends. In October 2013, Gibson was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame joining 218 other men and women air and space pioneers who have been inducted by the NAHF since its founding in 1962.


  • Thaller

    Dr. Michelle Thaller

    BS, Harvard University
    Ph.D., Georgia State University

    Former “Right Stuff” recipient, Michelle Thaller knew it would take more than just a passion for astronomy and space science to achieve her dreams. Since earning degrees in Astrophysics from Harvard and Georgia State, Dr. Thaller has lived the dream of many Space Camp® trainees serving as an observer on the Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescopes, the ROSAT X-ray satellite and the International Ultraviolet Explorer. As a nationally recognized spokesperson for science and astronomy, she has been featured in displays and movies and is a regular host on various series for the History, National Geographic, and Discovery Channels. Dr. Thaller continues to extend her reach to thousands as the Assistant Director of Science for Communications at NASA’s Goddard Spaceflight Center working to ensure NASA’s public outreach and education programs are exciting and ready to meet the challenges of changing media trends and public participation in science.

  • meyers

    Valerie E. Meyers, PhD

    BA, Texas A&M University
    Ph.D., University of Alabama at Birmingham

    As a Space Camp® trainee, Valerie Meyers was inspired to pursue a career as a scientist. She later shared that inspiration with others as a Space Camp Crew Trainer. Since then, Dr. Meyers has engaged in some incredibly innovative work. She was part of the Center for Biophysical Sciences and Engineering’s team readying an experiment for flight on STS-105; spent a summer in the Biotechnology group at NASA’s Johnson Space Center studying the effects of modeled microgravity on bone-forming precursor cells through a fellowship from NASA’s Graduate Student Researcher program; and remained committed to educational outreach. Perhaps Dr. Meyers’ most exciting work is her five-week study on immune suppression on an island in the Canadian Arctic used as a lunar/Martian analog. Today, she is a board certified toxicologist at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston and has no doubt secured her place in our collective future.

  • Hare

    Lt. Col. William Burke Hare III, U.S. Air Force, Ret.

    BA, Auburn University
    MS, University of North Dakota

    For Retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel and Eagle Scout Burke Hare, it all began by attending Space Camp® twice and later working as a Crew Trainer at Aviation Challenge® and Space Camp. In fact, Burke left his duties as an Aviation Challenge Crew Trainer upon being called to active duty in the U.S. Air Force. Burke credits much of his inspiration to pursue an Air Force career from his incredible experiences at Space Camp. Burke‘s Air Force career led him to command space and missile crews in the operation of the Global Positioning System (GPS) and the Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile weapon system. The Air Force also gave Burke the opportunity to experience additional Operations, Maintenance and Staff Experience in Space, Nuclear, Cyber and Missile Defense missions. Burke is an ardent supporter of Space Camp, Space Academy® and Aviation Challenge programs and passionately passes on his experiences to inspire the next generation. He was inducted into the Space Camp Hall of Fame under the Alumnus category.


  • French

    Francis French

    BA, University of North London, England
    PGCE, Brunel University

    Originally from Manchester England, Francis French has spent more than a decade working to make science and technology accessible and understandable to family audiences in museums and science centers here in the United States. Mr. French, a former Space Academy® Level II trainee, showed an early and significant interest in space and space history. So, it is no surprise that his professional endeavors have been focused on spaceflight and astronomy. His work includes regular collaborations with NASA, retired astronauts, notable astronomers and astronomical observatories around the world. Having worked both as the Director of Events with Sally Ride Science and Director of Education for the San Diego Air & Space Museum, Mr. French is a sought-after contributor of articles to aerospace magazines, primarily in the area of manned spaceflight history. Mr. French is co-author of both Into that Silent Sea and In the Shadow of the Moon, and designed a banner that flew aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia on its final successful mission. Francis French has remained true to his first love and continues to pursue his passion to the benefit of thousands of lifelong learners.

  • Hynda

    MAJ. J. David Hnyda, U.S. Army

    BS, Auburn University

    US Army, Snellville, Georgia

    Eagle Scout and former Space Camp® trainee and Crew Trainer, David Hnyda, was part of the Space Camp family for more than a decade. Although that time included him having the distinction of being a Right Stuff winner as both trainee and Crew Trainer, his life since Space Camp is surely the envy of every Aviation Challenge® Camp trainee that has ever attended. While earning his degree in Mechanical Engineering, Major Hnyda was in Army ROTC. He began early making his mark by completing the Army’s Airborne, Air Assault and Northern Warfare Schools. Following graduation, Major Hnyda joined the Air Calvary flying the OH-58D helicopter. He has spent the last decade and more than 1,150 combat hours serving in support of the Iraq War as an Air Mission Commander. In 2011, Major Hnyda graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School, and is currently serving as an Experimental Test Pilot. U.S. Army Major David Hnyda has a long history of distinguishing himself at every turn and is living proof that dreams are made of vision, dedication and hard work.