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Educator Becomes Explorer This Summer
Barbara Morgan

Barbara Morgan will be the first Educator Astronaut in space when she flies on the STS-118 mission. Image Credit: NASA

Educator Astronauts are teachers with expertise in K-12 classrooms selected by NASA to train to become fully qualified astronauts. They also have the task of using their out-of-this-world experiences to help other teachers excite their students about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or STEM.

Barbara Morgan began her 26-year teaching career in 1974 on the Flathead Indian Reservation at Arlee Elementary School in Arlee, Mont., where she taught remedial reading and math. She was selected as the backup candidate for the NASA Teacher in Space Program on July 19, 1985. As such, Morgan trained at NASA Johnson Space Center, or JSC, in Houston, Texas, with Christa McAuliffe and the Challenger crew. Following the Challenger accident, Morgan assumed the duties of Teacher in Space Designee.

From March 1986 to July 1986, she worked with NASA as a speaker who visited educational organizations throughout the country. In the fall of 1986, Morgan returned to Idaho to resume her teaching career. She taught second and third grades at McCall-Donnelly Elementary and continued to work with NASA's Education Division in the Office of Human Resources and Education. Her duties as Teacher in Space Designee included public speaking, educational consulting and curriculum design, as well as serving on the National Science Foundation's Federal Task Force for Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering.

Selected by NASA in January 1998 as the first Educator Astronaut, Morgan reported to JSC in August 1998. Following the completion of two years of training and evaluation, she has served in the International Space Station Operations, Capsule Communicator, or CAPCOM, and Robotics branches of the Astronaut Office at JSC.

Barbara Morgan is assigned to the crew of STS-118, an assembly mission to the space station. Morgan will be one of the robotics operators on STS-118, controlling both the shuttle's Canadian-built robotic arm and the station's robotic arm during spacewalks and other activities.