In 1984, when NASA announced they would send a teacher into space, 10,000 applied for the opportunity. New Hampshire teacher Christa McAuliffe was selected, but lost her life in the tragic 1986 Challenger explosion. Two decades later, teacher-turned-astronaut and McAulliffe’s alternate, Barbara Morgan gets her chance.
Sixty teachers, who competed for the chance 20 years ago and were present for McAuliffe’s launch, have reunited in Florida to watch Morgan’s take-off. Said teacher Pat Palazzolo, “What a chance for an ultimate field trip. Who wouldn’t apply for that?”
NPR spoke to a number of the reunited teachers who expressed conflicted emotions over the Endeavor launch. Teacher Judith Garcia, one of the original ten finalists, said her nerves will probably only lift when Endeavor touches down. “I just keep my positive thoughts going. And, when I see that shuttle go up, no one’s voice will be louder than mine saying, ‘God’s speed, Barbara.’”
A version of this news article first appeared in the Web Watch blog.