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Schoolteacher tapped for NASA mission

January 16, 1998
Web posted at: 3:56 p.m. EST (2056 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- As Sen. John Glenn reacted to the official news Friday that he will join another space mission, NASA officials announced that an Idaho schoolteacher also has the go-ahead to train for a future trip.

Barbara Morgan, an elementary school teacher, was waiting on the ground at the launch site as a backup when teacher Christa McAuliffe died aboard the shuttle Challenger when it exploded in 1986, killing all seven people aboard.

Morgan, 46, will enroll in the space flight training program to become a NASA astronaut, NASA Administrator Daniel Goldin said. Morgan had no comment in advance of NASA's announcement as she rushed to her teaching job in McCall, Idaho.

Goldin said NASA also is looking for biologists, geologists, scientifically minded educators and other science specialists to join the astronaut corps.

"We're trying to get biologists and geologists, because of the tremendous finding we're having in planetary science," Goldin said.

However, he emphasized that shuttle passengers must be fully trained mission specialists, not civilians.

"One of the issues I personally had with the civilian-in-space program was the lack of full training," he said.

"That is why (Morgan) is going to become a fully trained mission specialist. We are not looking for educators only. They must be scientists, and do science, and then education as part of the process, as with biologists and geologists."

Glenn, a Democratic senator from Ohio, is set to travel aboard space shuttle Discovery in October. He would be 77 during the mission, making him the oldest human being ever to fly in space.

His five-hour voyage aboard the capsule Friendship 7 on February 20, 1962, made him the first U.S. astronaut to orbit Earth.


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