Higher Orbits- Go for Launch! - For the thrill of outer space!

Higher Orbits- Go for Launch! - For the thrill of outer space! Main Photo

15 Jul 2022


Higher Orbits Go for Launch! is a non-profit program with one chief mission -  promoting Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) among students, along with building leadership, teamwork, and communication skills, 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 works to fulfill their dreams and ambitions while bolstering other vital life skills.

With the Higher Orbits program committed to providing the best experiences, resources, and educational opportunities for the future of STEM and STEAM, it works with the assurance that high school students everywhere will be empowered to reach for the stars and literally launch their dreams into space. The aim is to equip the next generation to reach their potential and emerge as future astronauts, scientists, mathematicians, engineers, creators, and explorers. 

Michelle Lucas: Spreading the wonders of STEM to the student world

Founder & President of Higher Orbits, Michelle Lucas 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. She states, “Higher Orbits has directly reached more than 1,200 students with an intensive 2-3 day program where kids, many underprivileged, are able to work with an Astronaut. We launched nine student experiments to the International Space Station and recently began flying student suborbital payloads. We plan to fly many more student experiments into space over the years”. 

Higher Orbits: A Patti Grace Smith STEM Award Winner

Higher Orbits is the recipient of the Patti Grace Smith STEM award in 2020. This was in recognition of its leadership as an educator committed to scientific excellence and the expansion of knowledge for the next generation of commercial space pioneers. 

According to Michelle, a student participating in the Higher Orbits programs develops multifarious skills, which are assets that will continue to enrich the student for life:

Skill building

The entire multi-day program proves to be a unique and memorable experience for the student. It brings spaceflight into the vision of communities that might not otherwise have access. The Go For Launch! experience gives students experience and skills that can lead to success in any venture that requires imagination, leadership, teamwork, and problem-solving skills. 


Students are immersed in the wonder of Human Spaceflight through a variety of talks delivered by experts in the fields of space & STEM: such speakers have included an astronaut, former International Space Station (ISS), and Space Shuttle Flight Controllers, Astronaut Instructors, scientists, and engineers. Students get insight and feedback from experienced space and STEM professionals whose goals are to illustrate the numerous possibilities that exist in the world of STEM. A unique facet of Go For Launch! is that the students will work with an astronaut throughout each day of the event.

Team Work

Broken into teams, students will work together for the entire event. Collaborative activities allow team members to work together to complete tasks for daily awards. These tasks are designed to build leadership and teamwork skills, as well as enhance communication skills. The culminating exercise is a design project. Each team must define and design a space experiment. At the conclusion of each program, the teams will present their ideas to a panel of judges from the Space & STEM fields, who will then choose a winner from each Go For Launch! event. Depending on the Series, winning experiments will be launched to and conducted aboard the International Space Station or on a suborbital flight!

Students working together

Student Class

Teacher Photo

Student's jump roping

GoForLaunch and the Midland Development Corporation 

The Go For Launch series was carried out with great success in Midland, Texas. Presented in partnership with Midland Development Corporation and Midland ISD, Higher Orbits touched down at the Goddard Junior High School for the final event of the Midland Series.  Students in grades 8-12 got to meet stellar featured Astronaut Dottie Metcalf-Lindenberger, with an opportunity to design an experiment that could be launched into space! Michelle feels that “Without the support of the Midland Development Corporation, Go For Launch! Midland would not have been possible. Their belief in this program and their students has launched the Series of events that will culminate in an experiment from a team of Midland students being launched to the International Space Station!” 

What are Michelle’s hopes and aspirations for the students of Midland?

Michelle states, “ My hope is that the Higher Orbits Go For Launch! program inspires students to dream big and keep STEM as part of their journey. We believe that space is a great way to inspire students to do both of these things and we are thrilled we have been able to share this experience with students in Midland.”