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Space Camp
Hall of Fame

Promoting teamwork, curiosity, air and space exploration, with an eye on the future.

The Space Camp Hall of Fame was established to honor the outstanding members of the Space Camp family, including graduates and former employees who have distinguished themselves in their respective careers or friends who have made considerable contributions or personal time, effort or resources to further the goals of the Space Camp programs.

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Meet the Inductees

Hall of Fame 2023

Hall of Fame 2022

Hall of Fame 2020

Hall of Fame 2019

Hall of Fame 2018

Hall of Fame 2017

Hall of Fame 2016

Hall of Fame 2015

Hall of Fame 2014

Hall of Fame 2012

Hall of Fame 2011

Hall of Fame 2010

Hall of Fame 2009

Hall of Fame 2008

Hall of Fame 2007

  • Tim Bailey

    Inflight Manager, Zero-G and Executive Director, Yuri’s Night
    As a boy in a small Georgia town, Tim Bailey explored his fascination with space through the pages of the Worldview Encyclopedias. He desperately wanted to go to Space Camp, but his family’s finances couldn’t stretch to send him. After high school, he headed to the Florida Space Coast for Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and finally made it to Space Camp. As a Space Camp Florida counselor, he shared his passion for space with kids from all over the world, helping launch his own future in the process. After a couple years at Embry-Riddle, he switched from Engineering Physics to his true calling – space studies and communication. In 2010, he joined with Space Camp Hall of Famer George Whitesides and Space Camp alumna Loretta Hidalgo Whitesides to create Yuri’s Night, a global celebration of space exploration. He served as executive director of that organization with its myriad missions, including Mission AstroAccess to advance disability inclusion in space; the SpaceKind Foundation leadership training program; and Cosmic Odyssey, a scholarship program to send families affected by pediatric cancer to Space Camp. Bailey is now floating in microgravity as Inflight Manager for Zero-G, a company that supplies microgravity flights for astronaut training, scientific research, and public enjoyment.
  • Konrad Dannenberg

    NASA engineer
    Konrad Dannenberg was just a teen when he saw his first rocket demonstration. From that moment on, he turned his gaze to the skies, dreaming of leaving the Earth and exploring the solar system. He studied mechanical engineering and built his own rockets before being drafted by the German army during World War II. His engineering expertise led him to Peenemunde, where he worked with Dr. Wernher von Braun and others on missiles for the German war effort. After the war, Dannenberg was one of more than 100 engineers who came to America to design and build missiles for the U.S. Army and ultimately rockets for NASA. Dannenberg was involved in major milestones, from the launch of Explorer I, America’s first satellite, to development of the Saturn V that propelled Apollo astronauts to the Moon. After retiring from NASA, Dannenberg found another mission at Space Camp, where he wrote curriculum and served as an advisor to the then fledgling program. Over the next 25 years, he taught propulsion to hundreds of thousands of campers, lighting the imagination of many future astronauts, engineers, and scientists who are among the 1 million graduates from the programs he helped launch.
  • Bob Hines

    NASA astronaut, SpaceX Crew-4 mission
    Bob Hines’s dreams of flying high began early. His first memory of watching planes land and takeoff was at the Munich Airport in Germany when he was 2 years old. Later, he would visit his grandparents in Pennsylvania every summer, and they would take him to the nearby airport to watch the airplanes. When he was just 12, his beloved grandparents paid for a flying lesson, a gift that set young Bob on the course to the rest of his life. Soon after, Bob had another dream come true – a trip to Space Camp. Naturally, he was the pilot of the space shuttle simulator on his mission, an experience Hines recalls as a seminal moment. “For someone who loves airplanes to get to sit in a flight deck with a control stick and actually get to fly an orbiter, it was amazing,” he said. After high school, Hines headed to Boston University where he received a degree in aerospace engineering. To no one’s surprise, he then joined the U.S. Air Force, amassing a hefty resume as an instructor pilot, fighter pilot, and test pilot along with his call sign, Farmer. His next career step as a NASA research pilot got him closer to his ultimate dream, the astronaut corps. In August 2017, he and 11 others reported for duty at Johnson Space Flight Center as the 2017 Astronaut Class. In April 2022, Hines and the other three members of SpaceX Crew-4 launched to the International Space Station for Expedition 67/68.
  • Justin Picchi

    Technical Director, U.S. Space Force
    A trip to the library as a kindergartner lit Justin Picchi’s passion for space. He discovered an Odyssey magazine with a cover photo of a rocket on the launch pad and his trajectory was set. Later, logically, came Space Camp. And Space Camp again. And again. For every birthday and Christmas, he asked for money to go back to Space Camp. He did chores to supplement his gift money for a total of eight trips as a kid. At Space Camp, he learned the value of teamwork, of the mission, of leadership, all the things he would need to be an astronaut. He joined the U.S. Air Force, his dreams set on learning to fly and on space flight. Becoming a pilot, however, wasn’t in the stars, so he drew on his years at Space Camp and found other missions he believed in – working on Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles, commanding crews that tracked satellites and space debris, and ultimately becoming a member of the newly formed U.S. Space Force. Again, he was part of a team, bringing his focused leadership to critical issues of national defense. Now retired from the military, Picchi is still contributing, this time as a civilian teaching new Space Force guardians about space. In this role, he is sharing the same passion he felt as a 6-year-old, waving a magazine with a rocket on the front. He still loves Space Camp, having returned four times as an adult. Space Camp, Picchi said, “is my alma mater.”
  • Jared Isaacman

    Founder, CEO Shift4

    Jared Isaacman is the founder and CEO of Shift4 Payments (NYSE: FOUR), the leader in integrated payment processing solutions. He started the company in 1999 from the basement of his family’s house when he was only 16 years old and has built it into an industry-leading payments technology company with over 1,200 employees. Isaacman is considered one of the industry’s most influential business leaders and has been featured by various media outlets and publications including Forbes, The Today Show, Fox Business News, ABC News, Bloomberg, Businessweek, Inc. Magazine, and Fast Company, among others.

    An accomplished jet pilot, Isaacman is rated to fly commercial and military aircraft and holds several world records including two Speed-Around-The-World flights in 2008 and 2009 that raised money and awareness for the Make-a-Wish Foundation. He has flown in over 100 airshows as part of the Black Diamond Jet Team, dedicating every performance to charitable causes. In 2011, Isaacman co-founded what would become the world’s largest private air force, Draken International, to train pilots for the United States Armed Forces.

  • Hayley Arceneaux

    Physician Assistant

    When Hayley was 10 years old, one of her knees began to ache. Her doctor thought it was just a sprain, but a few months later, tests revealed Hayley suffered from osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer. Her family turned to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for her treatment and care, which included chemotherapy and a limb-saving surgery. She is now finished with treatment and thriving. She obtained an undergraduate degree in Spanish in 2014, and obtained her Physician Assistant (PA) degree in 2016. She now works at St. Jude – the very place that saved her life – as a PA with leukemia and lymphoma patients.

  • Chris Sembroski

    Senior Analytics, Engineer
    Chris Sembroski grew up with a natural curiosity about outer space. Stargazing late at night on the roof of his high school and launching high-powered model rockets in college cemented this passion. As a U.S. Space Camp counselor, he conducted simulated space shuttle missions and supported STEM-based education designed to inspire young minds to explore these areas and find their passions. As a college student, Sembroski volunteered with ProSpace, a grassroots lobbying effort that promoted legislation in Washington, D.C., to help open space travel and allow companies like SpaceX to exist. He then served in the U.S. Air Force, maintaining a fleet of Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles and deploying for service in Iraq before leaving active duty in 2007. Following his education from the Air Force, Sembroski earned a B.S. in Professional Aeronautics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. In his career, Sembroski has sought innovative, industry-disrupting methods to monitor and maintain mechanical equipment, making everything from data centers to hospitals more efficient. He now resides in Seattle, WA, and works in the aerospace industry.
  • Dr. Sian Proctor

    Geoscience Professor
    Dr. Sian Proctor is a geoscientist, explorer, and science communication specialist with a lifelong passion for space exploration. She was born in Guam while her father was working at the NASA tracking station during the Apollo missions and has carried on his dedication and interest in space. She’s an analog astronaut (a person who conducts activities in simulated space conditions) and has completed four analog missions, including the all-female Sensoria Mars 2020 mission at the Hawai’i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) Habitat as well as the NASA-funded four-month Mars mission at HI-SEAS to investigate food strategies for long-duration spaceflights. Her motto is “Space2inspire,” and she encourages people to use their unique one-of-a-kind strengths and passion to inspire others. She uses her Space2inpsire Art to encourage conversations about creating a J.E.D.I. Space: a Just, Equitable, Diverse, and Inclusive space for all of humanity. Dr. Proctor was recently selected as an Explorer’s Club 50: Fifty People Changing the World. She has a TEDx talk called Eat Like a Martian and published the Meals for Mars Cookbook. Dr. Proctor was a finalist for the 2009 NASA Astronaut Program. She has her pilot license, is SCUBA certified, and loves geoexploring our world. She has been a geoscience professor for over 20 years at South Mountain Community College in Phoenix, Arizona and is currently on reassignment as the Open Educational Resource Coordinator for the Maricopa Community College District. She has a B.S. in Environmental Science, an M.S. in Geology, and a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction: Science Education.
  • Hall of Fame Ceremony

  • Inspiration4 Fireside Chat

  • Mary “Wally” Funk

    • Taos, New Mexico
    • Bachelor of Science, Oklahoma State University
    • Adult Space Academy, 1991 and 2001

    From the time she jumped off her father’s barn wearing a Super Man cape at the age of 4, Mary “Wally” Funk dreamed of flying. She became a civilian flight instructor for the U.S. Army by the age of 20, and at 21, Wally volunteered for the Mercury 13, a group of women who underwent the same training as the Mercury Astronauts. While the Mercury 13 never got the chance to fly in space, her life’s work reflects Wally’s profound love of aeronautics. She became the first female Air Safety Investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board and was a long-time flight instructor. She has flown gliders, jumped from airplanes, won air races and served as a Goodwill Ambassador for flight all around the world.

    Hall of Fame VideoInduction Speech

  • Casey Harris

    • Hometown: Ithaca, New York
    • Space Camp for Interested Visually Impaired Students, 2000 and 2001

    Casey Harris is the first Space Camp for Interested Visually Impaired Students (SCIVIS) alumnus to be inducted into the Space Camp Hall of Fame. Fascinated with aviation since his godfather took him on an airplane ride as a young teen, Casey jumped at the chance to attend Aviation Challenge when he learned about SCIVIS. A two-time graduate and Top Gun award recipient, Casey said attending SCIVIS was “one of the most formative experiences” of his life. He continues his long-time interest with aviation and space, even giving his son the middle name “Orion.” The constellation is also the name of the second album by Casey’s band, X Ambassadors. Casey is the keyboardist in the successful rock band, whose members include his brother, Sam, on vocals and Adam Levin on drums.

  • Christina H. Koch

    • Jacksonville, North Carolina
    • Bachelor of Science, Electrical Engineering; Bachelor of Science, Physics; Master of Science, Electrical Engineering, North Carolina State University
    • Space Academy and Advance Space Academy 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996

    Five-time Space Camp graduate, Christian H. Koch is the fifth Space Camp alumna to fly in space. Christina launched to the International Space Station in March 2019 as a member of Expedition 59 and 60. She worked as an electrical engineer at Goddard Space Flight Center’s Laboratory for High Energy Physics before being selected as one of eight members of the 21st NASA Astronaut Class. She has worked in space science instrument development as well as serving as a research associate with the United States Antarctic Program. While board the ISS, she is expected to break the record for the longest single spaceflight for a woman.

  • Beth Moses

    • Northbrook, Illinois
    • Bachelor of Science, Aerospace Engineering; Master of Science, Aerospace Engineering, Purdue University
    • Adult Space Academy 1989

    Beth Moses’ trip to Adult Space Academy in 1989 included a memorable training session in the Underwater Astronaut Trainer. Then NASA-engineer turned best-selling author Homer Hickam was her trainer. Beth is now flying high as the Chief Astronaut Instructor and a commercial astronaut for Virgin Galactic, which is working to make commercial space travel a reality. Before joining Virgin Galactic, Beth was a senior engineer at NASA Johnson Space Center’s EVA Project Office. In her February 2019 flight aboard Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo Unity, Beth became the first woman to reach space aboard a commercially launched space vehicle and is the first woman to receive the Federal Aviation Association’s commercial astronaut wings.

  • Dr. Tara Ruttley

    Dr. Tara Ruttley is an Associate Program Scientist for the International Space Station (ISS) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) at Johnson Space Center in Houston. Dr. Ruttley has a bachelor’s in Biology, a master’s in Mechanical Engineering, and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience. She began her career as an ISS biomedical engineer at NASA and now her role consists of representing and communicating all research on the space station. Dr. Ruttley has authored publications ranging from hardware design to neurological science and also holds a U.S. utility patent. Alongside her professional work, Dr. Ruttley is an active proponent of student development and diversity in STEM fields, and she lends her expertise and experience to several academic and non-profit boards.
  • Dr. Erika Wagner

    Dr. Erika Wagner serves as Payload Sales Director for Blue Origin, supporting the development of technologies to enable human access to space at lower cost and increased reliability. Prior to joining Blue Origin, Dr. Wagner worked with the X PRIZE Foundation as Senior Director of Exploration Prize Development and founding Executive Director of the X PRIZE Lab@MIT. Previously, she served at MIT as Science Director and Executive Director of the Mars Gravity Biosatellite Program, a multi-university spacecraft development initiative. Her academic background includes a bachelor’s in Biomedical Engineering from Vanderbilt University, a master’s in Aeronautics & Astronautics from MIT, and a Ph.D. in Bioastronautics from the Harvard/MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology. She is also an alumna of the International Space University.
  • Dr. Sarah Noble

    Dr. Sarah Noble is a Program Scientist in the Planetary Sciences Division at NASA HQ. Her science research focuses on understanding how soil develops on airless bodies, like the moon and asteroids, and her responsibilities at HQ includes serving as Program Scientist for the upcoming Psyche mission and the SSERVI institute. She earned her B.S. in Geology from the University of Minnesota and her Ph.D. in Geological Sciences from Brown University. Dr. Noble’s career includes stints at several NASA centers, including Johnson Space Center, Goddard Space Flight Center and Marshall Space Flight Center. In her spare time, Dr. Noble creates space-inspired art, pieces of which have been shown at several Washington, D.C. art galleries and events. In honor of her scientific and outreach efforts, Asteroid 133432 Sarahnoble now bears her name.
  • 1st Lt. Tara Sweeney, USAF, Retired

    Tara Sweeney leads a technology test and evaluation company, focused on operations in austere and hazardous environments for national defense, homeland security and intelligence community projects. She has significant experience with technological development and operational security programs for public and private organizations. Tara served as a United States Air Force Special Operations Command Officer. She has pursued military and civilian aviation, including as a glider and single-engine aircraft pilot, a helicopter maintenance officer, and as a parabolic flight coach and flight attendant. Tara has accumulated approximately five hours in microgravity while conducting research experiments and training participants how to experience reduced gravity. She enjoys public speaking, inspiring children and adults to see the wonder of space exploration and the importance of the STEM fields that make it possible. Tara holds degrees from the United States Air Force Academy, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Regis University.
  • Dr. Serena Auñon

    • Fort Collins, CO
    • The George Washington University, B.S. University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, M.P.H University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, M.D.

    Dr. Serena Auñón-Chancellor’s Space Camp mission position as medical officer was prophetic. Fast forward 25 years, and Serena will be launching on a Soyuz rocket as a member of Expedition 58/59 to the International Space Station. Space Camp was more than a much-desired 16th birthday gift for Serena. It confirmed what she thought she already knew. She was going to be an astronaut. “I felt very confident walking out after that week,” she said. “It reaffirmed what I wanted to become.” Serena holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from The George Washington University and attended medical school at the University of Texas – Health Science Center at Houston. She is board certified in Internal and Aerospace Medicine and was a flight surgeon to both space shuttle and ISS astronauts before being selected for the 2009 Astronaut Class. In her own astronaut career, Serena has searched for meteorites in Antarctica and operated the Deep Worker submersible on the NEEMO 16 mission. She also served aboard the Aquarius underwater laboratory during the NEEMO 20 undersea exploration mission. She is scheduled to launch to the ISS in November 2018.

    Hall of Fame VideoInduction Speech

  • Dr. Michelle Christensen

    • Tacoma, WA
    • University of Alabama in Huntsville, B.S. Pennsylvania State University, Ph.D.

    If her little brother hadn’t gotten sick on a trip to Disney World,Dr. Michelle Christensen might not be building rocket engines for Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin. Her dad took 5-year-old Michelle to Kennedy Space Center for the day, and she remembers standing under a Redstone rocket and staring at the engine. She wanted to know how it worked. Her parents looked for every opportunity to encourage their daughter’s interests, and at 14, she flew across the country to Space Camp for the first time. “I remember getting to camp and meeting these kids from all over the world,” Michelle said. She had found her place. She came back in 11th grade and worked as a Space Camp crew trainer in college, which led her to transfer to the University of Alabama in Huntsville to study aerospace engineering. Through UAH, she got a research job at Marshall Space Flight Center and then went on to Pennsylvania State University for her Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering. Today, she’s at the cutting-edge of the commercial space industry helping build reusable rockets. She’s also found the same kind of teamwork environment she loved at Space Camp. “It’s being part of a group of people who were excited about the same thing I was excited about,” she said.

    Hall of Fame VideoInduction Speech

  • Major John Hecker

    • Huntsville, AL
    • B.A., Auburn University

    Major John Hecker’s career as a U.S. Marine Corps pilot started late, but it quickly took off. John was 29 when he got the call on Sept. 11, 2001, to report to Quantico for officer training. He had been told he was too old to join, but the terrorist attacks that day changed everything. John was soon learning to fly a C-130, the big, four-engine aircraft he would ultimately operate as part of the fabled Blue Angels squadron. His father’s U.S. Army career took John’s family in and out of Huntsville several times, and John spent many days of his childhood at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, first on nearly daily visits and later for Space Academy. “The U.S. Space & Rocket Center itself was a gigantic part of my childhood,” John said. In the Marines, he found the same kind of teamwork he remembered from Space Camp, and he revisited his team’s presenter role many times in the Blue Angels. In his three years on the squadron, he traveled almost 300 days a year, speaking to young people all over the country. His message was always to keep striving for what you want and to “recognize service to something greater yourself.” “It’s a great way to live your life,” he said.

    Hall of Fame VideoInduction Speech

  • Dr. Jennifer Heldmann

    • Syracuse, NY
    • Colgate University, B.S.
      University of North Dakota, M.S.
      University of Colorado at Boulder, Ph.D.

    Dr. Jennifer Heldmann was in third grade when she looked through a telescope and saw the moon up close. This was an actual place with mountains and craters, and she was “blown away.” Jennifer has been looking up ever since. A planetary scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center, she is researching how we will one day live on the moon and Mars. Jennifer came to Space Camp her junior year in high school, a trip she still thanks her mom for making happen. “It was the first time I was surrounded by people like me,” she said. “I was in this place dedicated to space. It started to become a real thing.” Her work today takes her to hostile environments such as Antarctica to study water, and she works on space craft data, computer modeling and Earth analogs to help prepare for deep space flight. “It’s test before you fly, the Space Camp way,” Jen said. She has won many accolades in her career, including the NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Award and a NASA mentor award, but she counts the Space Camp Hall of Fame as her top achievement. “It’s like something that is instilled in your inner core of being since 10,” she said.

  • Jason Hopkins

    • Norcross, Georgia
    • B.S., Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
      M.S., George Washington University

    In his aerospace career, Jason Hopkins has worked on satellite systems for Lockheed Martin and on NASA’s Orion spacecraft. He has managed the daily operations of the massive Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center and served as a NASA Fellow advising U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in his capacity as Chairman of the Senate’s Science and Space Subcommittee. Capitol Hill is a long way, however, from the Georgia town where a little boy created an imaginary space ship from his mother’s laundry basket. Two trips to Space Camp in middle school cemented Hopkins’ desire for an aerospace career. He carried his Space Camp log book everywhere with him and would rattle off space shuttle facts to anyone who would listen. Hopkins is now a part of the next generation of space exploration as he helps develop a reusable launch craft for Masten Space Systems. He also hasn’t given up on going into space himself, this time as a NASA astronaut on a real space craft.

  • Dr. Amy Kaminski

    • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    • B.A., Cornell University
      M.A., George Washington University
      M.S. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
      Ph.D., Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

    When Dr. Amy Kaminski was 8, her grandfather sat up lawn chairs in the back yard so they could watch the Perseid meteor shower together. That’s when the “space bug” hit her, and she began reading everything she could about astronomy. At 11, she came to Space Camp for the first of four times and returned as a counselor while in college. Like many Space Camp trainees, Kaminski wanted to be an astronaut, but she ultimately realized she was more interested in the “how” and “why” of space exploration. She wanted to understand and contribute to the important choices the country must make in continuing the space program. With degrees in earth and planetary science, public policy and science and technology studies, Kaminski’s career has included developing the science and education budgets for NASA and advising NASA’s chief scientist on space policy matters, including ways to engage the public in NASA’s mission.

  • George Whitesides

    • Newton, Massachusetts
    • B.A., Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs
      M.Phil., Trinity College, University of Cambridge
      Fulbright Scholar to Tunisia

    George Whitesides is a self-avowed space nerd with a love of adventure. As a child, he would look at the sky on clear nights and think “I want to go up there someday.” He pored over astronaut biographies and came to Space Camp at 16, where he received the Right Stuff Award. A young man of many interests, however, he studied government and considered becoming a lawyer, but it was always the thought of space travel that excited him most. He became the Executive Director of the National Space Society before serving as Chief of Staff for NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. For his work, Whitesides received the Distinguished Service Medal, the highest honor the agency bestows. He is now the CEO of Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company, working with Sir Richard Branson on the development of commercial spaceflight vehicles. It’s on one of those crafts that Whitesides plans to make his first flight into space soon.

    Hall of Fame VideoInduction Speech

  • Space Camp

    On June 6, 1986, “Space Camp” opened in theaters, igniting the desire of thousands of children to come to the real Space Camp®. Space Camp was the inspiration for the film in which a group of teens, a 12-year-old Max, a literal-minded robot named Jinx and a NASA-trained astronaut take off on an unexpected journey to space. In honor of the 30th anniversary of its release and the many children who wore out their VHS copies of the movie, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center is inducting the film’s all-star cast – Kate Capshaw, Lea Thompson, Kelly Preston, Larry B. Scott, Joaquin Phoenix, who was known as Leaf at the time, Tate Donovan and Tom Skerritt – into the Space Camp Hall of Fame. Harry Winer directed and five-time Academy Award winner John Williams composed the score for the movie, which was filmed in part on the grounds of the Rocket Center.

  • Kate Rubins

    • Napa, Calif.
    • B.S., University of California, San Diego
      Ph.D, Stanford University

    Dr. Kate Rubins is the third Space Camp® alumna to fly in space, with a scheduled launch to the International Space Station in the summer of 2016. Kate dreamed of becoming an astronaut as a child and did chores around the house to earn her trip to Space Academy® in seventh grade. She left camp knowing she needed to take as many math and science courses as she could, and that focus paved the way to her study of viral diseases and, ultimately, the NASA astronaut corps. Kate received a bachelor’s degree in molecular biology and a Ph.D. in cancer biology. Selected by “Popular Science” magazine as one of its “Brilliant 10” in 2009, Kate was a Fellow and Principal Investigator at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before becoming a member of the 20th NASA astronaut class.

    Hall of Fame VideoInduction Speech

  • Elizabeth Keller Bierman

    • Mahtomedi, Minn.
    • B.S., Iowa State University
      M.S., Iowa State University
      M.B.A., Bentley University

    When Elizabeth Bierman was in fourth grade, she brought her lunch to school in an astronaut lunchbox, a sign of her passion for space. She was a shy 12-year-old when she came to Space Academy®, and it was here that she met other trainees with the same fascination with space and science as she had. It’s also where she first understood that engineers are “problem solvers,” she said, and Space Academy launched an interest that led Elizabeth to study aerospace and systems engineering at Iowa State University. A senior project engineer at Honeywell Aerospace in Minneapolis, Elizabeth is also the recent past president of the Society of Women Engineers. When she talks with groups about how she became interested in engineering, “it all goes back to that lunch box and going to Space Camp,” Elizabeth said.

    Hall of Fame VideoInduction Speech

  • Susanna Phillips

    • Huntsville, Ala.
    • B.A, The Julliard School
      M.A., The Julliard School

    A three-time alumna of Space Academy®, Susanna Phillip’s reach for the stars takes place on the stage. One of the opera world’s rising sopranos, Susanna has appeared with leading orchestras around the globe and has made numerous appearances with the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago and Santa Fe Opera, just to name a few. She has won some of the world’s most prestigious vocal competitions and awards, including the Metropolitan Opera’s Beverly Sills Artist Award in 2010. Susanna is also the co-founder of Twickenham Fest, a chamber music festival that brings world-class musicians to her hometown each August.

    Induction Speech

  • Bobak Ferdowski

    • Oakland, Calif.
    • B.S., University of Washington
      M.S., Massachusetts Institute of Technology

    As a child, Bobak Ferdowsi was fascinated with science fiction and engineering. His favorite toys were LEGOS, and he had notebooks full of his car designs. As he got older, his interests turned to space, and he made a trip to Space Academy® at the age of 14. Two degrees in aeronautical and astronautical engineering followed, as well as a career at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory where Bobak was flight director on the Mars Curiosity team. As the world watched the historic landing of the rover on Mars, Bobak stood out as a colorful member of Mission Control. His Mohawk haircuts with stars and lettering cut into the side caught the attention of social media and even President Obama, who dubbed Bobak “Mohawk Guy.” Bobak is now helping plan a mission to Europa, one of Jupiter’s many moons.

    Induction Speech

  • Kaya Tunger

    • Los Angeles, California, and Izmir, Turkey
    • BS in Civil Engineering, University of California at Berkeley
      MBA in International Business, University of Southern California

    Kaya was inspired to build a Space Camp in his native country of Turkey after learning about the opportunity in 1996 at a meeting about technology transfer with Turkish-American NASA engineer Ismail Akbay. At its opening in June 2000, Kaya dedicated Space Camp Turkey as a “Gift to the Youth of the World.” Since then, more than 150,000 youth and adults from 50 countries have attended the camp. Born and raised in Turkey, Kaya came to California at the age of 19 to pursue an education. The pinnacle of his successful career as a businessman and builder was in his home country when he established the Aegean Free Zone in 1990. This 500-acre industrial park in Izmir, Turkey, has attracted foreign investment from top international companies, created more than 20,000 jobs, and is the home of Space Camp Turkey. In 2002, Kaya established the nonprofit Global Friendship Through Space Education foundation, and has provided scholarships to more than 5,300 young people from 27 countries to attend Space Camp Turkey. In recognition of his philanthropic efforts, Kaya was awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor in 2004.

  • Samantha Christoforetti

    • Milan, Italy
    • MA, Technische Universität, Accademia Aeronautica

    Samantha is a 1995 alumna of Space Camp in Huntsville, Captain in the Italian Air Force and currently an astronaut with the European Space Agency. Samantha graduated from the Italian Air Force Academy in Pozzuoli, Italy in 2005. From 2005 to 2006, she was based at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas, USA. After completing the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training, she became a fighter pilot and was assigned to the 132nd Squadron, 51st Bomber Wing, based in Istrana, Italy. From 2007 to 2008, she flew the MB-339 and served in the Plan and Operations Section for the 51st Bomber Wing in Istrana, Italy. In 2008, she joined the 101st Squadron, 32nd Bomber Wing, based at Foggia, Italy, where she completed operational conversion training for the AM-X ground attack fighter. Samantha has logged more than 500 hours flying six types of military aircraft: SF-260, T-37, T-38, MB-339A, MB-339CD and AM-X. Samantha was selected as an European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut in May 2009 and completed basic astronaut training in November 2010. In July 2012 she was assigned to an Italian Space Agency ASI mission aboard the International Space Station – Expedition 42/43, to be launched on a Soyuz spacecraft from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in December 2014. This will be the second long-duration ASI mission and the eighth long-duration mission for an ESA astronaut. Samantha is currently completing her training on International Space Station (ISS) systems, the Russian Soyuz spacecraft, robotics and spacewalks. When not in training in the USA, Russia, Canada or Japan, Samantha is based at the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany.

  • Michelle Ham

    • Annapolis, Maryland
    • Purdue University, Embry-Riddle Astronautical University

    Michelle Ham is a 1991 and 1994 alumna of Space Camp in Huntsville, and former NASA Johnson Space Center employee. Michelle spent 10 years working at NASA for a contractor primarily 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 as well. 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. Since then, she has done extensive work with the International Space School Educational Trust (ISSET) to inspire students about the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) subjects through the use of space. Michelle has been instrumental in the creation of Mission Discovery and various leadership programs offered by ISSET. She is currently the Founder/President of Higher Orbits which is focused on inspiring students through space curriculum in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) subjects. 

  • Stephanie Abrams

    • Atlanta, Georgia
    • BS, Florida State University, 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.

  • Dr. Liz Warren

    • Houston, Texas
    • BS, PhD, 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 working 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.

  • Ed Van Cise

    • Houston, Texas
    • 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 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. Ed 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 Gibson

    • Murfreesboro, TN
    • 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 is born of 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.

  • Dr. Michelle Thaller

    • Waukesha, WI
    • BA, Harvard University
      PhD, Georgia State University

    Assistant Director of Science for Communications at NASA’s Goddard Spaceflight Center in Maryland. In her current role, Michelle represents all of NASA’s science themes, from Earth science, the Sun and space weather, solar system exploration, all the way out to cosmology and the deep universe. Dr. Thaller attended Space Camp in the early 1980’s. She’s being inducted into the Space Camp Alumnus category.

    Hall of Fame VideoInduction Speech

  • Dr. Valerie Meyers

    • Bellville, TX
    • BA, Texas A&M University
      PhD, University of Alabama Birmingham

    Dr. Valerie Meyers, is a board certified toxicologist in the Space Life Science Directorate at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. She studied under Dr. Terry Bray in the Center for Biophysical Sciences and Engineering where she helped prepare the dynamically controlled protein crystal growth experiment for flight on STS-105. Dr. Meyers graduated from the lab of Dr. Jay McDonald, where she studied the effects of modeled microgravity on bone-forming precursor cells. Dr. Meyers both attended Space Camp in the early 90’s and later worked as a crew trainer prior to completing her education and moving forward with her career. She’s being inducted into the Former Staff category.

    Hall of Fame VideoInduction Speech

  • Lt. Colonel William Burke Hare III, USAF retired

    • Atlanta, Georgia
    • BA, Auburn University
      MS, University of North Dakota

    Chief of Operations, Flight Test Execution Directorate, Missile Defense Agency, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama. In his current position, Lt Col Hare leads 100+ personnel in the day to day operations of a Joint Service Test Management and Execution Directorate. His Directorate is responsible for the system level flight testing of the US Ballistic Missile Defense System. A US Air Force Space and Missile Operations Officer, Lt Col Hare has operations experience with the Global Positioning System (GPS) and the Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) weapon system. Lt Col Hare has additional Operations, Maintenance and Staff Experience at Unit, Major Command and Joint Service levels. Lt Col Hare attended Space Camp in the 1980’s and worked at Aviation Challenge and Space Camp as a young adult. He left Aviation Challenge upon being called to active duty in the Air Force where he continues to make his contributions to our country. He’s being inducted into the Space Camp Alumnus Category.

    Hall of Fame VideoInduction Speech

  • Francis French

    • Oceanside, California
    • BA, University of North London, England
      PGCE, Brunel University

    Although 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 primarily focused on Spaceflight and Astronomy. His work has included regular collaborations with NASA, retired astronauts, notable astronomers, and astronomical observatories around the world. Having worked as the Director of Events with Sally Ride Science and Director of Education for the San Diego Air & Space Museum, it is no wonder that Mr. French is a sought-after contributor of articles to aerospace magazines primarily in the area of manned spaceflight history. In addition to being the co-author of both Into that Silent Sea and In the Shadow of the Moon, Mr. French also designed a banner that flew aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia on its final successful mission. As a SPACE ACADEMY graduate, Francis French has remained true to his first love and continues to pursue his passion to the benefit of thousands of lifelong learners.

    Hall of Fame VideoInduction Speech

  • Major J. David Hnyda, US Army

    • Snellville, Georgia
    • BS, Auburn University

    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® 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. Most recently, Major Hnyda was selected as a member of Class 139 at the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School. 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.

    Hall of Fame VideoInduction Speech

  • Danny R. Jaques

    • Ignacio, Colorado
    • BS, Fort Lewis College

    Danny Jaques has been a science teacher at Ignacio Junior High School for nearly twenty-five years. For more than half of those years, he has been a veritable dynamo and perhaps SPACE CAMP’s most effective un-official ambassador. A life-long resident of Colorado, Danny has worked tirelessly to ensure that the children in that area are not only aware of SPACE CAMP – but have the opportunity to take advantage of the educational opportunities it offers. As a Life Member of the National Science Teacher Association, President of the Ignacio Community Historical Society, member of the Mars Society, and Teacher Liaison Officer for the U.S. Space Foundation, Danny somehow found time to establish the Jaquez Rocket Ranch and Ignacio Space Camp. Danny’s organization has, over the years, helped literally hundreds of students attend SPACE CAMP. His natural optimism, enthusiasm and utter “joie de vive” make Danny a magnet for anyone that shares an interest in space and aviation. He is a true friend to SPACE CAMP and to all the young people whose lives are touched by his irrepressible spirit.

    Hall of Fame VideoInduction Speech

  • Andrea M. Hanson, PhD

    • Lake Park, Minnesota
    • BS, University of North Dakota
    • MS, University of Colorado
    • PhD, University of Colorado, Boulder

    To say that former ADVANCED SPACE ACADEMY® crew trainer, Andrea Hanson, has been persistent in pursuing her interest in Science and Engineering may be the greatest of understatements. Although Dr. Hanson’s enthusiasm for Space Life Science began during her freshman year at college, she credits her time spent as an instructor at SPACE CAMP as the launch pad for her research career in that field. Following an internship with Boeing Satellite Systems, Dr. Hanson worked as a graduate student with BioServe Space Technologies at the University of Colorado. It was here that she realized the dream of so many trainees, when five years of research culminated in a space shuttle experiment that flew aboard STS-118 in August of 2007. Today, Dr. Hanson continues her relentless pursuit as a post-doctoral research scientist and engineer in the Department of Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine at the University of Washington, Seattle. Her primary efforts are focused on developing technology to monitor musculoskeletal health in astronauts during long-duration space missions to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. Dr. Hanson is a walking testament to what is produced at the fantastic intersection of drive, determination and passion and is a role model for anyone with a dream.

    Hall of Fame VideoInduction Speech

  • Jim Allan

    • Austin, Texas
    • BS, M.Ed., Ph.D., University of Texas, Austin

    As the accessibility coordinator at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Jim Allan may be custom made to be the wizard behind the curtain of SPACE CAMP® for Interested Visually Impaired Students (SCI-VIS). He has served in that capacity for almost 20 years. In addition to maintaining the SCI-VIS website and coordinating the attendance of more than 200 blind and visually impaired students to SPACE CAMP, Jim serves as the technical expert for the program. Jim’s expertise supported SPACE CAMP’s development of mission software usable by blind and visually impaired students. It is no wonder that Jim adds the SPACE CAMP Hall of Fame honor to the other state, national and international honors he has received for his significant contributions to the visually impaired community and a more accessible world.

    Hall of Fame VideoInduction Speech

  • SGM Jerry Gleason, Ret.

    • Peoria, Illinois

    Both legend and mentor to an entire generation of AVIATION CHALLENGE trainees and staff members, Retired U.S. Army Veteran, Sergeant Major Gleason is part of the reason AVIATION CHALLENGE enjoys such a high number of repeat trainees. Having proudly served his country for 30 years, he has spent his retirement serving the USSRC as an employee and as a volunteer. A highly-decorated combat veteran and survival expert, SGM Gleason is the author of the AVIATION CHALLENGE Land Survival training and has inspired more than a few young men and women to follow their dreams of pursuing a military career. As a 4-time Bronze Star recipient, 3-time Purple Heart recipient, and a 2-time Meritorious Service Medal recipient, SGM is more than merely authentic. To those who proudly wear the AVIATION CHALLENGE wings, SGM Jerry Gleason is the bona fide, genuine article.

    Hall of Fame VideoInduction Speech

  • Robert Pearlman

    • West Orange, New Jersey
    • University of Maryland, College Park

    An accomplished journalist, sought-after space history expert and respected appraiser of space memorabilia, Robert Pearlman was one of the first to recognize the Internet as a means of promoting space exploration. A six-time SPACE CAMP graduate that has successfully turned his passion into his profession, Pearlman has spent the past decade developing into the leading online publication and community for space history enthusiasts. Prior to his current roles as collectSPACE editor and contributing writer for, Pearlman created and worked on numerous other websites, including the award-winning Ask An Astronaut and the original, the official website of the Apollo 11 moonwalker. A board member and advisor to numerous foundations and boards dedicated to space including the National Space Society, Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) and the U.S. Space Walk of Fame, Robert Pearlman possesses a rare combination of zeal, expertise and vision and continues to be an avid supporter and effective advocate of the space program.

    Hall of Fame VideoInduction Speech

  • Oscar Holderer

    One of the original members of the von Braun Rocket Team, Holderer not only helped put men on the moon but also made it possible for thousands of would-be astronauts to learn all about space travel. His realistic design of such SPACE CAMP® mainstays as the Multi-Axis Trainer, the 5DF, and the 1/6th gravity trainer have allowed more than half a million youngsters over two decades to experience astronaut training on equipment modeled after actual NASA training equipment. Holderer is also responsible for helping ensure that millions of Alabama visitors traveling I-65 are greeted by a Saturn IB Rocket proudly proclaiming Alabama’s place in history as the Birthplace of Manned Space Flight.

  • Marlenn Maicki

    • West Bloomfield, Michigan
    • BS, Wayne State University
      MAT, Oakland University

    A devoted career educator, Mrs. Maicki does more than teach…she inspires. As a fifth grade science teacher at Detroit’s Country Day School, she is legendary for her insistence that science be learned not from a text book, but by doing, seeing, and experiencing. 2009 marked 22 consecutive years that Mrs. Maicki has led her entire 5th grade class – and most of their parents – on an annual trek to SPACE CAMP. With “the heart of a child and the creativity and drive of an award-winning teacher,” she has inspired literally thousands of students to dream big and to work to make those dreams a reality.

  • Lisa DeVries

    • Cocoa, Florida
    • BS, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
      MS, Columbia Southern University

    As a child, she put glow-in-the-dark stars on her ceiling and dreamed of working in the space program. As a teenager, she attended SPACE ACADEMY® and began a hot pursuit of her childhood dream. As a young adult, she continued that pursuit and shared her love of space as an Advanced Space Academy® crew trainer. Today, Lisa DeVries is a wife and mother of two and a member of Operations Safety at Kennedy Space Center. She has realized the dream…she has been among the last to leave the launch pad prior to each shuttle mission – and one of the first on the runway upon the shuttle’s return. As the voice that gives the safety “go-no go” for Launch Control, DeVries is living her dream.

  • Vincent Vazzo

    • Salem, Ohio
    • BS, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

    An 8-time trainee, former crew trainer, and current volunteer, Vincent Vazzo could have been inducted into the Hall of Fame in any of the three nominee categories. Vincent, the brain and energy behind the original, unofficial, SPACE CAMP social network,, never veered from the path to making the space program his career. Today, Vincent works for United Space Alliance as part of the Imagery Analysis Team at the Marshall Space Flight Center. His team provides NASA the imagery and communications tools to gather and organize information about liftoff debris enabling better and faster assessments of potential damage during a mission to ensure the safety of both craft and crew.

  • Major Phillip A. “Ritz” Smith

    • Tampa, Florida
    • BS, U.S. Air Force Academy

    Although an alumnus of SPACE CAMP, Florida, and SPACE ACADEMY, USSRC, Phillip Smith found his calling somewhere between Earth and space. The would-be astronaut pursued a career in military aviation and landed what may be the dream job of many a young man or woman. Major Smith was an F-15E pilot stationed at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina. After serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom – and not satisfied with just any dream job, Major Smith secured perhaps the ultimate dream job. He served as an Air Combat Command Strike Eagle Demonstration Team pilot and Commander spending his days showcasing America’s F-15E Strike Eagle to more than seven million people across the world. No doubt about the accomplishments of Major Phillip A. “Ritz” Smith as he is only the second Air Force pilot ever chosen to be a demo pilot for this amazing machine. Currently, Major Smith is assigned to the 353rd Combat Training Squadron flying the F-16 as an Aggressor Pilot at Eielson AFB, Alaska.

  • Josh Whitfield

    • Waterford, California

    Josh Whitfield was an all-American boy growing up playing football, baseball and golf, but it would be his long held fascination for the military and aviation that led him to become an AVIATION CHALLENGE trainee – 13 times. As a trainee, Josh earned the coveted Right Stuff Award 5 times and twice won the Top Gun Award. However, it is Army Specialist Whitfield’s valor and service that have earned him his spot in the Hall of Fame. As a gunner on one of the Army’s Stryker armored combat vehicles, Josh was twice injured during firefights to liberate the area of Hadar in the Iraq War. Today, Josh has come back home to Aviation Challenge as a crew trainer. He returns as a Bronze Star recipient… and a true American Hero.

  • Dr. Wernher von Braun

    • Berlin, Germany
    • Technical University of Berlin, Charlottenburg

    Inspired by the Science Fiction of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, Dr. Wernher von Braun studied the works of German Rocketeer, Herman Oberth, to make science fact out of science fiction. Dr. von Braun was the leader of the German Rocket Team that was brought to America following WWII and directed the efforts of the scientists and engineers that put mankind on the moon forever marking his spot in world history as the Father of Manned Space Flight. The original Director of NASA and the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center, Dr. von Braun knew that America and the world would need a new generation of scientists, mathematicians, and engineers to ensure the continuation of his dream of manned travel beyond the moon. It was this knowledge along with Dr. von Braun’s rare combination of scientific genius, marketing savvy, and personal charisma that allowed him to envision and plant the seed that would grow into the world’s most recognized museum education program – SPACE CAMP®.

  • Edward O. Buckbee

    • Huntsville, Alabama
    • P.I. Reed School of Journalism, West Virginia University

    Selected by Wernher von Braun in 1970 to serve as the first ever Chief Executive Officer of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center®, former NASA Public Affairs Officer, Edward O. Buckbee, has forever changed the face of Museum Education. In addition to assembling and managing the world’s largest space history museum and rocket collection, Buckbee brought to life von Braun’s vision by founding SPACE CAMP and later its sister program, AVIATION CHALLENGE®. Buckbee has spent more than 40 years championing all things space. Since retiring from the USSRC in 1994, Buckbee has continued that effort as an author, lecturer, and full-time space advocate working tirelessly to increase the public’s understanding of America’s role in the development of technology. 

  • Georg von Tiesenhausen

    • Riga, Latvia
    • Hamburg University

    Born to German-Scottish parents, Dr. Georg von Tiesenhausen was more than a witness to history…he was one of its designers. Dr. von Tiesenhausen joined von Braun’s Rocket Team in 1943 and immediately became one of its critical parts. He continued that role at NASA and, more than 20 years after his retirement, NASA still uses many of the components he designed. However, it is what he’s done since his retirement that has made him one of the most cherished and integral parts of SPACE CAMP – past and present. Dr. von T, as he is affectionately known to thousands of students from around the world, has spent more than 22 consecutive years volunteering as a guest lecturer at SPACE CAMP. A gifted teacher, Dr. von T is able to discuss such subjects as the time-space continuum so that even the youngest student understands and appreciates the lesson. SPACE CAMP has no greater friend than Dr. Georg von Tiesenhausen.

  • Dan Oates

    • Romney, West Virginia
    • BS, Fairmont State College
      M.Ed, University of Pittsburgh

    As the heart, soul, and mind of SPACE CAMP for Interested Visually Impaired Students (SCI-VIS), Dan Oates is more than a “friend” to SPACE CAMP – he is a champion. For 20 years, Oates has surrendered his summers and free time to bring to life this very special program. With a gift for drawing into his world the very best in the field of education for blind and visually impaired students, Dan has enlisted an army of teachers and specialists to make SCI-VIS possible and to bring these very special children out of their comfort zone and immerse them into the world of tomorrow. Today, a child who has never seen his mother’s face can launch the space shuttle and guide it safely home again. Oates has always given of himself – and to more than 2,200 students he has given perhaps the greatest gift of all, confidence…confidence in themselves and in their abilities. 

  • Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger

    • Ft. Collins, Colorado
    • Whitman College

    Although a trip to SPACE ACADEMY at the age of 14 opened up a world of possibilities for Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger, it was a question from one of her 8th grade Astronomy students that really changed her life. It was the age-old question of “how do astronauts use the bathroom in space,” that led the young teacher to NASA’s website where the Educator Astronaut position had just been posted. Metcalf-Lindenburger had long been a science enthusiast and considers herself a sort of teacher for all people; the opportunity could not have been more perfect. So when she was selected as the youngest member of the 2004 Educator Astronaut Candidate Class, it was literally a dream come true. Today, Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger has completed her Astronaut Training and has been assigned to STS-131 as a Mission Specialist aboard the Orbiter Discovery scheduled for launch in 2010. 

  • Dr. Jim Rice

    • Tuscaloosa, Alabama
    • BS, University of Alabama
      MS, Northeast Louisiana University
      PhD, Arizona State University

    Believing that exploration is the lifeblood of a civilization, Astrogeologist Dr. Jim Rice has always interested in science and the history’s great explorers. Today, he is both…scientist and explorer. Rice started his journey as a SPACE CAMP crew trainers in 1985 and used his location and passion to endear himself to a group of Marshall Space Flight Center engineers. The engineers did more than befriend Rice; they helped him obtain an internship with NASA in which he helped select a landing site for a project that would send the first robot to Mars. Today, Dr. Rice is one of the Science Team Members for Mars Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, and is the man behind the camera onboard Mars Odyssey – targeting the camera and analyzing the fantastic photos that are returned. Dr. Jim Rice spends his days, literally, looking for life on Mars.

  • Amanda Stubblefield

    • Cross Plains, Tennessee
    • BS, Vanderbilt University
      MAS, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

    A former trainee and camp crew trainer (1995 – 2000), Amanda Stubblefield went from training students at space camp and aviation challenge to training astronauts at nasa’s Johnson Space Center. It was the 1983 launch of Challenger, aboard which flew the first American woman astronaut, that sealed Stubblefield’s fate. Although only 8 at the time of that historic launch, she knew before Challenger disappeared from sight that she would be a part of the Space Program. With an engineering degree in hand, Amanda worked diligently to ensure that she was on the path to fulfilling her childhood dreams. Stubblefield has realized those dreams and today serves as an instructor for the astronauts and cosmonauts who will fly to the International Space Station.

  • Penny J. Pettigrew

    • Chula Vista, California
    • BS, Colorado School of Mines
      MS, University of Alabama Huntsville

    Penny Pettigrew has always been interested in the space program but freely admits she had no idea what she wanted to do with her chemistry degree until she attended SPACE CAMP. She never thought of working for NASA and considered the space agency as a place reserved for astronauts only, but a trip to the Adult SPACE CAMP program while still in college opened a world of new possibilities. After leading the Ares I First Stage Systems Engineering and Integration Team in support of NASA’s cancelled Constellation Program, Penny now works in the Payloads Integration and Operations Center located at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center as a Payloads Communications Manager (PAYCOM). As a PAYCOM, Penny is responsible for talking to the astronauts who are currently living and working on the International Space Station to assist them with their daily science activities. Penny says this job is just like being at Space Camp but the real thing! As a PAYCOM, Penny relies upon one simple fundamental… teamwork. Not only does Pettigrew consider teamwork to be the cornerstone of the manned space flight program, but also lists it as “Lesson 1” at SPACE CAMP.

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