The story of Barbara Morgan, the first teacher in space


In 1984, President Ronald Reagan announced the creation of the Teachers in Space Project, a NASA initiative that would bring teachers into space and allow them to share their experiences with their students upon their return.

Teachers Christa McAuliffe and Barbara Morgan were selected from a pool of around 11,000 applicants to the program. While McAuliffe was trained to become the first teacher in space, Morgan, as her backup, trained right alongside her, just in case McAuliffe wouldn’t be able to make it to the launch.

McAuliffe was killed alongside her six crewmates in the 1986 Challenger disaster, and the Teachers in Space program was soon shut down, the mission of sending civilian teachers into space deemed too dangerous. Morgan returned to teaching, but in 1998, NASA asked her to return, this time as a full-fledged astronaut.

The NewsHour profiled Barbara Morgan in 2007 as she prepared to launch to space in the Space Shuttle Endeavor. You can watch the report above.