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Teacher in Space

From a BBC Story:

Teacher in Space

NASA astronaut Barbara Morgan, originally a back-up to Christa McAuliffe (who lost her life in the Challenger disaster of 1986), fulfilled a two-decade promise to put a teacher in space and link up with students on earth.

From the ISS, she spoke to an audience of hundreds of yougsters packed into the Discovery Center of Idaho in Boise, US, less than 160km (100 miles) from the elementary school where Morgan taught before joining the astronaut corps.

Asked by one child how being a teacher compared to being an astronaut, Ms Morgan replied: “Astronauts and teachers actually do the same thing.

“We explore, we discover and we share. And the great thing about being a teacher is you get to do that with students, and the great thing about being an astronaut is you get to do it in space, and those are absolutely wonderful jobs.”

One child asked her about exercising in space: in response, Morgan lifted the two large men floating alongside her, one in each hand, and pretended to be straining.

Another wanted to see a demonstration of drinking in space. Ms Morgan and her colleagues obliged by squeezing bubbles from a straw in a drink pouch and swallowing the floating red blobs.

Christa McAuliffe  Christa McAuliffe

On Tuesday, teacher-turned astronaut Barbara Morgan fielded questions from children via a link-up, realising a long-held dream.

Ms Morgan, 55, originally trained at Nasa as a back-up for Christa McAuliffe, who was selected for Nasa’s Teacher in Space programme, announced by US President Reagan in the 1980s.

McAuliffe and six other astronauts were killed in 1986 aboard the shuttle Challenger, when a leaky booster rocket triggered an explosion 73 seconds into launch.

After the incident, Nasa asked Ms Morgan to stay on as its Teacher in Space representative and pledged a shuttle flight to fulfil McAuliffe’s educational agenda.

When the agency banned civilians from flying in its spacecraft, Ms Morgan had to become a fully trained astronaut, joining Nasa’s corps in 1998.

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