Student Features

An Amazing Journey
A picture of Barbara Morgan

Barbara Morgan will have important jobs to do on the STS-118 space shuttle mission. Credit: NASA

When Neil Armstrong became the first person to walk on the moon, he said words that have become famous:

"That's one small step for (a) man," he said, "one giant leap for mankind."

In other words, Armstrong was the person who took the first step. But when he did, the entire human race had done something amazing.

This summer's STS-118 shuttle mission will be like that for teachers and students.

On the crew of the flight is mission specialist Barbara Morgan. She is a teacher who is an astronaut. She will be the first Educator Astronaut to fly into space. Morgan is dedicating her flight to all teachers and students. When she flies, she will be representing teachers all over the world.

STS-118 will be one amazing journey for Barbara Morgan. But her flight honors the amazing things all teachers do.

So who is Barbara Morgan?

In 1998, NASA picked Barbara Morgan to be an astronaut. At the time, she was an elementary school teacher. She taught at McCall-Donnelly Elementary School in McCall, Idaho. She had been teaching for 24 years. Most of the time, she taught second, third and fourth grades at McCall-Donnelly. She also taught on an Indian reservation in Arlee, Montana, and at a school in Ecuador, a country in South America.

A group of students surround Morgan, who is standing by a model of the space shuttle

Barbara Morgan talks to students in Houston about her space shuttle mission. Credit: NASA

In 1985, Morgan was selected for NASA's Teacher in Space Project. In that project, NASA chose teacher Christa McAuliffe to fly in space. Morgan was picked as McAuliffe's backup. For five months, Morgan trained with McAuliffe and the Challenger crew. They trained at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. An accident during the January 1986 launch resulted in the loss of Challenger and the crew. Afterwards, Morgan continued to work with NASA. She spoke to teachers and students around the country. In July 1986, she returned to teaching in Idaho.

Barbara Morgan will be the first Educator Astronaut to fly in space. But she is also just like other astronauts. Like her crewmates, she has been training for years to get ready to fly. She and the other astronauts all have important jobs on the mission. They will help build the International Space Station. One of Morgan’s jobs as a mission specialist will be to use a robotic arm. But even in space, she will still be a teacher. She will talk to students about her experience while she is in orbit.

To travel into space is an amazing experience for the astronaut crew. For educators and students, the mission will be one they follow closely.

Related Resources
Barbara Morgan   →
NASA Education Web site   →
International Space Station

David Hitt/NASA Educational Technology Services