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Higher Orbits, Durham County Library, and Durham Library Foundation Announce Student STEM Experiment Winner to be Launched on SpaceX CRS-16 to the International Space Station

Leesburg, VA – Higher Orbits, a non-profit with the mission of promoting Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education through the launchpad of spaceflight, is pleased to announce Team Orion from Durham, NC the winner of the Go For Launch! (GFL!) 2018 Durham Series presented by the Durham County Library and Durham Library Foundation. Higher Orbits, in partnership with Durham County Library and Durham Library Foundation, brought the Go For Launch! 2018 Durham Series experience to high school students in Durham, NC across six events held between April 2017 and August 2018. Team Orion’s “Radiotrophic Fungi: A Possible Radiation Barrier” experiment is scheduled to launch to the International Space Station (ISS) December 4, 2018 on the SpaceX CRS-16 mission. Team Orion members Graham Shunk, Srikar Prasad Kaligotla, Xavier Gomez, Jamison R. Fuller and Finn Poulin developed their “Radiotrophic Fungi: A Possible Radiation Barrier” experiment to address the ever-present problem of high radiation levels in space travel and habitation. The experiment will monitor the growth of the radiotrophic fungus, Cladosporium sphaerospermum that feeds off of radiation, to determine if it will reduce radiation levels in space environments and habitats.

The team is excited about their experiment being selected as the winner of the 2018 Durham Series, presented by Big Bang Sponsors the Durham County Library and Durham Library Foundation, and the opportunity to be on-site in early-December at Kennedy Space Center, Florida to watch their winning experiment launch to the International Space Station aboard a Falcon 9 rocket on the SpaceX CRS-16 mission. “To be able to contribute to the exploration of a whole new frontier is really cool. This experience escalated from a Go For Launch! summer camp experience to a scale out of this world (literally) and that is truly amazing and memorable,” exclaimed Finn Poulin Team Orion member.

“All of the experiments designed by students during the six Go For Launch! events in Durham County were very impressive, and we are extremely proud that team Orion’s experiment will represent all of them and be flown to the International Space Station. It’s exciting that Durham County Library will be the first library that we know of to have a student experiment sent into space. We can’t wait to see what results will come from it!” said Matthew Clobridge, Technology Management Administrator, Durham County Library.

Go For Launch! is Higher Orbits’ flagship STEM experience designed to promote space exploration for aspiring students through interactive, hands-on activities delivered by experienced industry professionals. During a Go For Launch! event, students work with former astronauts, former International Space Station and Space Shuttle controllers, astronaut instructors, scientists and engineers. Working in teams, students sharpen their communications and leadership skills while designing innovative science experiments that could be flown to the International Space Station where their experiments would be conducted in microgravity.

Students present their experiment concept to a panel of judges representing space and STEM fields for the opportunity to be selected the winning team of their division and earning the opportunity for their experiment to be launched to and executed on the International Space Station. In partnership with Space Tango, the Go For Launch! student experiments are executed inside the International Space Station within Space Tango’s TangoLab. TangoLab allows for multiple CubeLab experiments to run automatically and is the ideal platform for leveraging student space exploration engagement.

“We are honored to partner with Durham County Library and Durham Library Foundation in our mission to inspire the next generation of innovative and creative space explorers.” said Michelle Lucas Higher Orbits founder and Go For Launch! Program Director. “Space inspires. And through the generous support of Durham County Library and Durham Library Foundation we are able to bring the life-changing Go For Launch! spaceflight STEM experience to Durham NC area students at no cost to the students.”

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 launchpad 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 and is excited to be holding events across the US in 2017. To learn more visit

About Durham County Library

Durham County Library encourages Discovery, connects the Community and leads in Literacy. As a department of Durham County Government, the library furthers Goal 1 of the county’s Strategic Plan by enhancing cultural, educational and creative opportunities. For more information about the library, visit

About Durham Library Foundation

Durham Library Foundation raises funds to provide a margin of excellence for the Durham County Library and develops and encourages the long-term financial health and growth of the library. As a private, 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, the Foundation solicits private gifts from many sources, including those not available to a government-funded Library. Gifts are used to fund enhancements and improvements that the library could not otherwise afford through its annual operating budget.

About Space Tango

Space Tango streamlines and simplifies the unique environment that microgravity offers to design, build, and operate integrated systems that facilitate microgravity R&D and manufacturing focused for application on Earth. Space Tango allows users to focus on their work while managing the complexities of traveling to and operating in microgravity. Space Tango is committed to the standardization of processes to provide a seamless experience. Space Tango is developing an entire pipeline of products to increase the variety, volume and ease of using this new frontier. Space Tango strives to diversify the use of microgravity as they invite industries of any kind to reach beyond in hope of improving life on Earth. For more information, visit

Media Contacts:

Higher Orbits
Michelle Lucas

Durham County Library
Matt Clobridge

Danielle Rosales
Marketing & Sales Associate


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