Space Camp® Hall of Fame

Friday, August 8, 2014 - 6:00pm - 10:00pm

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 and friends of the Center who have made considerable contributions of personal time, effort or resources to further the goals of the Space Camp programs. Since 1982, Space Camp has graduated more than 600,000 trainees and Hall of Fame members demonstrate exceptional character and exemplary personal and professional achievements. Members of the Space Camp Hall of Fame exhibit leadership among the globe-spanning Space Camp alumni community, providing guidance and encouragement for alumni to continue to support the Space Camp program and its mission.
The U.S. Space & Rocket Center hosts the annual Space Camp Hall of Fame Dinner and Induction Ceremony to celebrate and honor new nominees each year. The 2014 celebration is from 6 p.m. – 10 p.m. on Friday, August 8, 2014. Tickets are $45 and must be purchased in advance.

This year’s inductees are:

Kaya Tuncer
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 Cristoforetti
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 Lucas
Hobart, Indiana
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.


Guest Speakers:

  • Astronaut Charlie Precourt, Vice President and General Manager, Space Launch Systems at ATK
  • Chris Singer, Director, Engineering Directorate, Marshall Space Flight Center

Special Guests:

  • Astronaut Dr. Don Thomas
  • Astronaut Robert “Hoot” Gibson
  • Astronaut Ken Ham
  • Five Tuskegee Airmen

Join us after the event for an exclusive screening of I Want to be an Astronaut documentary at 9 p.m., followed by a panel discussion.

Sponsored by:

Supporting Sponsors:

John Ramsey
Ben Chandler