Monday, April 15, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

NASA to send teacher into space
Robin McKie

London, April 14
The American space agency NASA is to complete the unfinished business of sending a teacher into space.

Ms Barbara Morgan, from McCall, Idaho, has been scheduled to be blasted into orbit on a space shuttle and to visit the International Space Station in 2004. She has been in training at Johnson Space Centre in Houston for the past four years.

Ms Morgan (50) was the backup for the first teacher-in-space candidate, Christa McAuliffe, who died with six other astronauts when the space shuttle Challenger exploded a few minutes after take-off from Kennedy Space Centre in January 1986.

The disaster led to a major restructuring of the US manned space programme and to the freezing of flights for civilians, including teachers, on the shuttle. However, in 1998, Ms Morgan was admitted as an astronaut candidate at NASA and designated the first educator mission specialist.

Now Sean O’Keefe, who took over as Director of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in December, has decided that the educator programme is to be expanded with other teachers being sought for training as astronauts.

The decision to give the go-ahead to Ms Morgan’s flight indicates a change by the space agency under O’Keefe away from high technological enterprise and towards more domestic concerns. “What we have done in our vision of the future and its mission road map is to make education a core mission element,” he said in a speech yesterday. Observer News Service

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