Educator Features

STS-118 In-flight Education Downlink Opportunity
Call for Participants

STS-118 crew patch
NASA is seeking formal and informal education institutions and organizations, individually or working together, to host live, in-flight education downlinks during STS-118, the first flight of an Educator Astronaut, Barbara Morgan. In order to maximize the impact of these events, NASA seeks organizations that will draw large participant numbers and demonstrate large-scale educational impact. STS-118 will have a lasting impression on the education community. The theme of the STS-118 education effort is Igniting the Flame of Knowledge.

Image to left: The STS-118 mission patch. Credit: NASA

During the mission, the STS-118 crew will participate in live, in-flight education downlinks with Barbara Morgan and selected crewmembers. Live, in-flight downlinks can happen any day during the mission and are not always scheduled during normal business hours. Downlinks are approximately 20 minutes in length and allow students and educators to interact with a crew on board the space shuttle through a question and answer session. A downlink is essentially a modified videoconference in which participants hear and see the crewmembers live from space. The crew does not see the audience. Downlinks afford education audiences the opportunity to learn first-hand from space explorers what it is like to live and work in space. These events are broadcast live on NASA TV, or NTV.

No earlier than June 28, 2007, the STS-118 crew will launch into space aboard space shuttle Endeavour to continue the extraordinary task of assembling the International Space Station, or ISS. In addition to replacing a Control Moment Gyroscope and delivering the Starboard 5 Truss Segment and the External Stowage Platform 3 to the ISS, the STS-118 mission will be the first flight of an Educator Astronaut, mission specialist Barbara Morgan.

An Educator Astronaut is a fully qualified astronaut who brings expertise in K-12 education. With their education background, Educator Astronauts will help lead NASA in the development of new ways to connect space exploration with the classroom, and inspire the next generation of explorers while ensuring a successful mission. Barbara Morgan is a teacher from McCall, Idaho.

STS-118 crew
Image to right: Attired in training versions of their shuttle launch and entry suits, Commander Scott Kelly (left), Pilot Charles Hobaugh, Mission Specialists Tracy Caldwell, Rick Mastracchio, Dave Williams and Barbara Morgan, and Expedition 15 Flight Engineer Clayton Anderson await the start of a training session in the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility at Johnson Space Center, Houston. Credit: NASA

U.S. Navy Cmdr. Scott Kelly will command the seven-person crew of STS-118. U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Charles Hobaugh will be Endeavour's pilot. Veteran astronauts Richard Mastracchio and Canadian astronaut Dr. Dafydd (Dave) Williams will be returning to space for their second missions. Assigned to their first spaceflight, Barbara Morgan and Tracy Caldwell will serve as mission specialists. Clay Anderson will launch to the ISS on board STS-118 to replace Sunita Williams as flight engineer for ISS Expedition 15 crew.

This mission will spark the imagination and nurture the passion of tomorrow's explorers and innovators, and salute the power of teachers and astronauts to inspire our nation and strengthen its future.

Who Can Host an Education Downlink?
Members of the U.S. informal and formal education communities are eligible to host these downlinks. Examples include museums and science centers, local school districts, national and regional education organizations, and local, state and U.S. government agencies. NASA provides this opportunity at no cost to the host. Downlinks support national education standards and initiatives.

What You Need to Host a Downlink
In order to host a downlink, you need NTV and two telephone lines. The audio for the downlink is received through a telephone line. The video is received through NTV. The host organization must receive NTV in order to participate in this event. Access to NTV via the Internet is not acceptable for this transmission.

Review of Submitted Material:
NASA is committed to inspiring the next generation of explorers. Applications will be reviewed for relevance to the education community, education content, diversity of participants, evaluation, continuity and community involvement. Successful downlink hosts will articulate how they will maximize this limited opportunity for the greater good of the community or region.

Mission scheduling requires the hosting organization to be flexible. Downlink times and dates may shift and are sometimes cancelled. The number of downlinks scheduled during STS-118 is limited.

Application Process and Deadline:
The deadline to submit an application for STS-118 downlinks is March 9, 2007. Applications must be submitted electronically to the Teaching From Space Office. A committee will review all applications. Organizations will be notified of their status. NASA Education will work with the host to plan the downlink.

Interested parties should contact the Teaching From Space Office to obtain information related to program expectations, content, format, audience, application guidelines and forms. Email for application guidelines and form is

Education/Engagement Opportunities Surrounding the Flight
NASA Education is planning a variety of education activities for students and educators before, during and after the mission. There will be numerous opportunities for formal and informal education communities to be actively engaged in STS-118. Information on the mission and related education activities can be found at