Educator Astronaut Project
The Educator Astronaut Project is a NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

 program designed to educate students and spur excitement in math, science, and space exploration
Space exploration
Space exploration is the use of space technology to explore outer space. Physical exploration of space is conducted both by human spaceflights and by robotic spacecraft....

. It is a successor to the Teacher in Space Project
Teacher in Space Project
The Teacher in Space Project was a NASA program announced by Ronald Reagan in 1984 designed to inspire students, honor teachers, and spur interest in mathematics, science, and space exploration....

 of the 1980s that was cancelled after Christa McAuliffe
Christa McAuliffe
Christa McAuliffe was an American teacher from Concord, New Hampshire, and was one of the seven crew members killed in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster....

 died in the Space Shuttle Challenger
Space Shuttle Challenger
Space Shuttle Challenger was NASA's second Space Shuttle orbiter to be put into service, Columbia having been the first. The shuttle was built by Rockwell International's Space Transportation Systems Division in Downey, California...

Space Shuttle Challenger disaster
The Space Shuttle Challenger disaster occurred on January 28, 1986, when Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart 73 seconds into its flight, leading to the deaths of its seven crew members. The spacecraft disintegrated over the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of central Florida at 11:38 am EST...

STS-51-L was the twenty-fifth flight of the American Space Shuttle program, which marked the first time an ordinary civilian, schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe, had flown aboard the Space Shuttle. The mission used Space Shuttle Challenger, which lifted off from the Launch Complex 39-B on 28 January...

). 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
Joseph M. Acaba
Joseph Michael "Joe" Acaba is an educator, hydrogeologist, and NASA astronaut. In May 2004 he became the first person of Puerto Rican heritage to be named as a NASA astronaut candidate, when he was selected as a member of NASA Astronaut Training Group 19...

, Richard R. Arnold
Richard R. Arnold
Richard Robert "Ricky" Arnold II is an American educator and a NASA astronaut. He flew on Space Shuttle mission STS-119, which launched March 15, 2009 and delivered the final set of solar arrays to the International Space Station.Arnold was raised in Bowie, Maryland and is married to Eloise...

 and Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger
Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger
Dorothy Marie "Dottie" Metcalf-Lindenburger was born on May 2, 1975 in Colorado Springs, Colorado and married Jason Metcalf-Lindenburger, a seventh grade teacher at the time, in 2000. She was a science teacher at Hudson's Bay High School in Vancouver, Washington when she was selected in 2004 as an...

 were selected as the first Mission Specialist Educators in the 2004 class. Both Acaba and Arnold were part of the crew of STS-119
-Crew notes:This mission was originally scheduled to bring the Expedition 9 crew to the ISS. This crew would have consisted of:-Mission parameters:* Mass:* Orbiter liftoff: * Orbiter landing: * Perigee: * Apogee:...

, a space shuttle mission to the International Space Station (ISS) which was flown by Space Shuttle Discovery in March 2009. Metcalf-Lindenburger flew on STS-131
STS-131 was a NASA Space Shuttle mission to the International Space Station . launched on 5 April 2010 at 6:22 am from Kennedy Space Center's launch pad 39A, and landed at 9:08 am on 20 April 2010 on runway 33 at the Kennedy Space Center's Shuttle Landing Facility...

 in April 2010, also visiting the ISS aboard Space Shuttle Discovery.

Barbara Morgan

Barbara Morgan
Barbara Morgan
Barbara Radding Morgan is an American teacher and a former NASA astronaut. She participated in the Teacher in Space program as the backup to Christa McAuliffe for the ill-fated STS-51L mission of Space Shuttle Challenger. She then trained as a Mission Specialist, and flew on STS-118 in August 2007...

, the backup to Christa McAuliffe
Christa McAuliffe
Christa McAuliffe was an American teacher from Concord, New Hampshire, and was one of the seven crew members killed in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster....

 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
Mission Specialist
A Mission Specialist is a position held by certain NASA astronauts during Space Shuttle missions. A Mission Specialist is assigned to a limited field of the mission, such as for medical experiments or technical quests....

 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
- Crew notes :Astronaut Clayton Anderson originally was slated to be launched to the ISS on this mission, but was moved to STS-117. His replacement was Alvin Drew....

. 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
Michael D. Griffin
Michael Douglas Griffin is an American physicist and aerospace engineer. From April 13, 2005 to January 20, 2009 he served as Administrator of NASA, the space agency of the United States...

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.
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