June 27, 2008

Astronaut Barbara Morgan Leaving NASA

Veteran space shuttle astronaut Barbara R. Morgan will leave NASA in August to become an educator at Idaho's Boise State University.

NASAs first educator astronaut, Morgan logged more than 305 hours in space aboard shuttle Endeavours STS-118 assembly mission to the International Space Station in August 2007. She operated the shuttle and station robotic arms to install hardware, inspect the orbiter and support spacewalks. Morgan also served as loadmaster for the transfer of supplies between the shuttle and station, taught lessons from space to schoolchildren on Earth and served on the flight deck during re-entry and landing.

"Barbara has served NASA and the Astronaut Office with distinction over the course of her career," Astronaut Office chief Steve Lindsey said. "From the Teacher in Space Program to her current position as a fully qualified astronaut, she has set a superb example and been a consistent role model for both teachers and students. She will be missed.

Morgan previously served as the backup to payload specialist Christa McAuliffe in the Teacher in Space Program. McAuliffe and six fellow astronauts lost their lives in the Challenger accident on Jan. 28, 1986. Morgan, who was an elementary schoolteacher in McCall, Idaho, before being selected as McAuliffe's backup, returned to teaching after the accident. She was selected to train as a mission specialist in 1998 and named to the STS-118 crew in 2002.

It is really tough to leave NASA, Morgan said. It is a great organization with great people doing great things. Were going back to the moon and on to Mars. Im especially proud that we have three other teachers who are astronauts, and there will be others in the future. I'm very excited to go to work for Boise State University. I like everything about it, and it's going to be wonderful helping exploration by working full time for education."

Three other educator mission specialists, Richard Arnold, Joseph Acaba and Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger, are training for future spaceflights. Arnold and Acaba are assigned to fly on the STS-119 space shuttle mission to the station in 2009.

Morgan will serve as Distinguished Educator in Residence at Boise State, providing vision and leadership to the state of Idaho on science, technology, engineering and math education.

Highlights of Morgans NASA career will be available on NASA Televisions video file. For NASA TV downlink information, schedules and links to streaming video, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/ntv

For more biographical information about Morgan, visit: http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/htmlbios/morgan.html

For information about NASA and agency programs, visit: http://www.nasa.gov