Educator Astronaut Project
The Educator Astronaut Project is a NASA program designed to educate students and spur excitement in math, science, and space exploration. It is a successor to the Teacher in Space Project of the 1980s that was cancelled after Christa McAuliffe died in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster (STS-51-L). NASA halted the teachers project amid concerns surrounding the risk of sending civilians to space.
In the 1990s, NASA decided to reopen its selection process, but with a more rigorous approach dubbed the Educator Astronaut Project. The Educator Astronaut Project carries on the objectives of the Teacher in Space Program, seeking to elevate teaching as a profession and inspire students. Unlike the Teacher in Space Program, educator astronauts are fully trained astronauts who do the same jobs, and duties that any other astronaut does.. They fly as crew members with critical mission responsibilities, as well as education-related goals. In addition to their technical assignments, they assist other astronauts in connecting to students and teachers through space exploration.
Joseph M. Acaba, Richard R. Arnold and Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger were selected as the first Mission Specialist Educators in the 2004 class.. Both Acaba and Arnold were part of the crew of STS-119, a space shuttle mission to the International Space Station (ISS) which was flown by Space Shuttle Discovery in March 2009. Metcalf-Lindenburger is assigned to the crew of STS-131, scheduled for 2010.
Barbara Morgan, the backup to Christa McAuliffe in the Teacher in Space Project, remained involved with NASA after STS-51-L and continued to work with NASA’s Education Division until her selection as a Mission Specialist in 1998. Morgan completed two years of astronaut training and evaluation, and began official duties in 2000. Morgan became the first former teacher in space on STS-118. While NASA press releases and media briefings often referred to her as a "Mission Specialist Educator" or "Educator Astronaut", Morgan did not train in the Educator Astronaut Project. NASA Administrator Michael D. Griffin clarified at a press conference after STS-118 that Morgan was not considered a Mission Specialist Educator, but rather was a standard Mission Specialist, who had once been a teacher. Morgan's duties as a Mission Specialist were no different than other Shuttle Mission Specialists.
- ↑ NASA. "Preflight Interview with Barbara Morgan". NASA. http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/shuttlemissions/sts118/morgan_interview.html. Retrieved 2007-08-13.
- ↑ STS-118 mission summary
- ↑ 'Teachers in Space' will endure
- ↑ Civilians in Space
- ↑ NASA Assures That Teachers Will Fly in Space
- ↑ NASA (2004-10-08). "NASA's New Astronauts Meet The Press". NASA. http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2004/oct/HQ_n04160_new_ascans.html. Retrieved 2007-08-13.
- ↑ Michael Griffin, NASA TV: STS-118 Post-Landing briefing