Barbara Morgan Biography

Educator, Astronaut (1951–)
Barbara Morgan was the first teacher-astronaut to complete a shuttle mission on board the Endeavor in 2007.


Born in 1951, grammar school teacher Barbara Morgan was the backup candidate for the NASA Teacher in Space program in 1985. The chosen teacher, Christa McAuliffe, died in the 1986 Challenger explosion. Morgan continued with the astronaut corps, finally serving on the Endeavor for an 11-day mission in 2007, making her the first teacher-astronaut to complete a space mission.

Early Life

Barbara Radding Morgan became the first teacher-astronaut into space when the shuttle Endeavour launched August 8, 2007, on an 11-day mission to the International Space Station. Barbara Morgan was born November 28, 1951, in Fresno, California, to Dr. and Mrs. Jerry Radding. After attending Hoover High School in Fresno, Morgan earned a B.A., with distinction, in human biology from Stanford University. She also obtained a teaching credential from the College of Notre Dame in Belmont, California.

Career Highlights

Morgan was originally trained as the backup to "teacher in space" Christa McAuliffe, who died in the 1986 Challenger explosion. Morgan waited in the wings for more than 21 years for an opportunity to fulfill McAuliffe's mission. She made no public comment as she took her historic, long-delayed ride into space on mission STS-118. Aboard Endeavour, she was load master, responsible for the 5,000 pounds of supplies that was transferred to the station. She also operated the shuttle and station robotic arms during three planned spacewalks. On the seventh day of the mission, she was scheduled to participate in an educational interactive video broadcast with students gathered at the Discovery Center of Idaho in Boise. Morgan planned to teach some of the same lessons that McAuliffe was supposed to teach more than 20 years previous, as part of a wider curriculum.

Morgan began her teaching career in 1974 on the Flathead Indian Reservation, where she taught remedial reading and math at Arlee Elementary School in Arlee, Montana. From 1975-'78, she taught remedial reading/math and second grade at McCall-Donnelly Elementary School in McCall, Idaho. From 1978-'79, Morgan taught English and science to third graders at Colegio Americano de Quito in Quito, Ecuador. And from l979-'98, she taught second, third and fourth grade courses at McCall-Donnelly Elementary School.

Morgan was selected as the backup candidate for the NASA Teacher in Space Project in July 1985. She trained with Christa McAuliffe and the Space Shuttle Challenger crew at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. Following McAuliffe's death, Morgan returned to teaching before being selected in 1998 as a member of the astronaut corps.

Morgan is married to writer Clay Morgan. They have two sons.

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