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Teacher Going Into Space 21 Years After Challenger Disaster

Barbara Morgan (center) practices an emergency exit drill for her upcoming shuttle mission

NASA Announces Web Coverage of Next Space Shuttle Mission
Cape Canaveral FL (SPX) Aug 05 - A prelaunch webcast, live blogs, podcasts, pictures and videos highlight NASA's Web coverage of space shuttle Endeavour's STS-118 mission to the International Space Station. NASA will provide ongoing updates online. A live webcast featuring astronaut Joan Higginbotham, who flew aboard space shuttle Discovery in December 2006, will start the in-depth coverage of the mission at 11:30 a.m. EDT on Aug. 7. A blog will update the countdown continuously, beginning about six hours before Endeavour is scheduled to lift off on Aug. 8 at 6:36 p.m. Originating from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the blog is the definitive Internet source for information leading up to launch. During the 11-day mission, Endeavour's crew of seven astronauts will conduct at least three spacewalks. They will install new station components, replace one of the outpost's attitude control gyroscopes, deliver 5,000 pounds of supplies and add a segment to the right side of the station's backbone, or truss. Visitors to NASA's shuttle Web site can read about the crew's progress and watch the spacewalks, which will be broadcast live from the space station. The NASA blog also will detail Endeavour's landing at the conclusion of the mission.
by Paul Sisco
Washington, DC (VOA) Aug 05, 2007
Engineers with the U.S. space agency NASA are fixing a cabin leak discovered earlier this week in the space shuttle Endeavour. Officials are saying the problem will not delay the scheduled August 7 launch to the International Space Station. The historic mission will be the first for a teacher since the disastrous Challenger accident 21 years ago. VOA's Paul Sisco reports.

Barbara Morgan, 55, is patient. In 1985, the schoolteacher was selected as the backup to teacher astronaut Christa McAuliffe, who later died with six others in the Challenger explosion. Morgan remembers being selected. "We were all really excited and really thrilled to be doing what we were doing," she said, "and Christa was, she was, is and always will be our teacher in space, and our first teacher to fly."

After the accident, plans for a teacher in space were shelved. Morgan went on with her life, raising two sons, and teaching young people.

In 1998 she rejoined NASA as a full-fledged astronaut.

She was to fly on a 2004 shuttle mission. That was later scrubbed as the shuttle program reorganized following the Columbia accident in 2003.

Next Tuesday Astronaut Morgan is trying again, part of a seven person shuttle Endeavour crew making NASA's 22nd flight to the international space station.

"I'll be one of the robotic arm operators, so I'll be using the space shuttle arm and the space station arm to help us move some of these pieces of equipment as we attach them onto the station," she explained, "and I'll be helping on the flight deck coming home, or during what we call entry of the space shuttle back to Earth, and helping with everything we do to make sure we come back home safely."

U.S. Navy commander Scott Kelly is commanding the seven person crew that has been training for months. Charles Hobaugh is Endeavor's pilot. Astronauts Rich Mastracchio and Dr. Dave Williams of the Canadian space agency are returning to space for their second missions. First timers in space, NASA astronauts Alvin Drew, Tracy Galdwell and Barbara Morgan round out the crew as mission specialists.

"The risks are the same for an educator, or a physician or an engineer or a pilot or a chemist, and anyone else who flies in space," explains Morgan. "We're doing it to learn. We're doing it to explore. We are doing it to discover. We're doing it to help make this world a better place, and we're doing it to help keep those doors open for our young people."

Like all shuttle missions, STS-118 is about the future, bringing the International Space Station a step closer to completion and gathering experience that will help humankind return to the moon someday, eventually go to Mars, and, perhaps, beyond.

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Cabin Leak Threatens US Space Shuttle Launch
Washington (AFP) July 31, 2007
NASA engineers have discovered a leak in space shuttle Endeavour's cabin and are rushing to find its source to prevent a delay in the mission's launch, a US space agency spokesman said Tuesday. The engineers found a small leak over the weekend after they closed the shuttle's hatch to check that the cabin seals properly during a routine check for the August 7 launch, NASA spokesman Kyle Herring told AFP. "You can't launch with a cabin leak," Herring said, adding, however, "At this point there is no delay of the launch."

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