Teacher-in-Space Plan Put on Hold
NASA has delayed for at least another year any plans to send a teacher into space to fulfill the hopes of Sharon Christa McAuliffe, who was killed in the 1986 Challenger explosion, officials said Friday.
NASA Administrator Richard H. Truly decided to continue a suspension of the teacher-in-space program because problems with the shuttle fleet last year and this year have created a backlog in missions, the space agency announced.
The program has been suspended since the Challenger exploded, killing schoolteacher McAuliffe and her six crew mates and grounding the shuttle program for nearly three years.
Barbara Morgan, 39, a teacher from McCall, Ida., who was named McAuliffe’s backup in 1986 and would be the next teacher to fly on the shuttle when the program is resumed, said she was disappointed.
“I’m ready,” she said. “This mission is so important. It’s a mission for education, and it’s every bit as important as a satellite or space probe. It’s to highlight what’s good about education in this country and what’s good about our space program.”
National Aeronautics and Space Administration officials will review early next year whether to reinstate the Space Flight Participant Program, which would allow people other than astronauts and payload specialists to fly on space shuttles.