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Interactive Webcast Brings Shuttle Mission STS-118 Closer to Home
Wouldn't it be great to be in 10 places at once? That’s what Educator Astronaut Joe Acaba will be doing April 19 and 20 – virtually, at least.

NASA’s Digital Learning Network (DLN) and NASA’s Explorer School program are teaming up to host an “STS-118 Relay Rally,” a virtual tour of NASA’s ten field centers. Each day, several NASA centers, along with an Explorer School from each of their regions, will interact with Acaba, questioning him about astronaut training, shuttle missions and whatever else piques their interest.

Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD along with NASA Explorer School Woodbury Junior/Senior High School in Woodbury, NJ will be featured on April 19. All videoconferenced participants will be able to interact with the other centers and Acaba.

Even though only the school participants will be able to ask questions each day, the event will be webcast live, so students across the nation will be able to watch and learn.

Each of NASA’s 10 centers contributes different skills to every space shuttle mission. The “STS-118 Relay Rally” will provide participants and viewers a greater understanding of this teamwork.

The STS-118 flight of the Space Shuttle Endeavour will be the first flight of Educator Astronaut and Mission Specialist Barbara Morgan and an important step in the ongoing assembly of the International Space Station. Commanding Morgan’s STS-118 mission will be U.S. Navy Commander Scott Kelly. The pilot for the mission is Marine Lt. Col. Charlie Hobaugh. The flight’s mission specialists are Morgan, Rick Mastracchio, Tracy Caldwell, Clay Anderson and Dave Williams, a Canadian Space Agency astronaut. The mission will take Anderson to the International Space Station to begin a stay and return to Earth the station’s Expedition 15 Flight Engineer Suni Williams, currently aboard the orbiting laboratory.

The centers featured during the April 19 event will include Johnson Space Center in Houston; Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.; Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.; Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio; Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Fla.; and Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.

Educator Astronauts are classroom teachers who have completed training to become mission specialist astronauts. Currently, there are four Educator Astronauts.

After teaching math and science in a high school for one year and middle school for four years, Acaba was selected an Educator Astronaut in May 2004. In February 2006, he completed Astronaut Candidate Training that included scientific and technical briefings, intensive instruction in shuttle and International Space Station systems, physiological training, T-38 flight training and water and wilderness survival training. Upon completion of his training, Acaba was assigned to the Hardware Integration Team in the Space Station Branch working technical issues with European Space Agency hardware. He will serve in technical assignments until assigned to a space flight.

Through the NASA Explorer Schools program, NASA enters partnerships with selected schools to bring engaging science, technology, engineering and mathematics lessons to educators, students and families. A competitive application process and selection of new NES teams occur each spring. With this project, NASA continues its tradition of investing in the nation’s educational systems. NES is directly tied to the agency’s major education goal of attracting and retaining students in science, technology, engineering and math disciplines.

Related Link:

+ STS-188 Relay Rally webcast

Dewayne Washington
Goddard Space Flight Center

Lindsay Crouch
Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va.