Morgan was born to Dr. and Mrs. Jerry Radding on November 28, 1951, in Fresno, California. In 1969, she graduated Hoover High School in Fresno. Upon graduation from Stanford University (California), with a 1973 bachelor’s of arts degree in Human Biology, and a 1974 teaching certificate from the College of Notre Dame (Belmont, California), she taught mathematics and remedial reading for one year at the Arlee Elementary School on the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana.
In 1975, she transferred to the McCall-Donnelly Elementary School in McCall, Idaho, where she taught mathematics and remedial reading to second graders. Three years later, she began teaching English and science to third grade students at Colegio Americano de Quito in Quito, Ecuador. Morgan returned to McCall-Donnelly in 1979, where she taught students in the second, third, and fourth grades.
While at McCall-Donnelly, Morgan was selected in 1985 as the backup to Payload Specialist Christa McAuliffe in the NASA Teacher-in-Space program. She returned to the school after the seven-member crew was killed aboard Space Shuttle Challenger. The STS-51L mission was ended 73 seconds after liftoff due to a malfunctioning O-ring on one of the solid rocket boosters (SRBs) in the icy and windy weather of Florida on January 28, 1986.
Morgan remained at McCall-Donnelly until 1998 where she continued to speak to students in schools across the United States as a representative to NASA’s Education Division and served on the National Science Foundation’s Federal Task Force for Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering.
She returned to the Johnson Space Center in August 1998 to train as a Space Shuttle astronaut with a designation of Educator Mission Specialist. (For some of Barbara’s comments on education, science, and NASA, see http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/barbara_morgan_020521.html.)
Morgan is assigned to the STS-118 mission that is scheduled to liftoff on June 28, 2007, and land on July 9. Besides Morgan, the crew also consists of Commander Scott Kelly, Pilot Charles Hobaugh, and Mission Specialists Richard Mastracchio, Dafydd Williams, and Tracy Caldwell. The mission will also include Mission Specialist/Expedition 15 Flight Engineer Clayton Anderson, who will be assigned to the International Space Station (ISS). Anderson will replace Mission Specialist/Expedition 15 Flight Engineer Sunita Williams, who will return to the Earth with the STS-118 crew after her ISS assignment.
During the mission, the crew will assemble the starboard S5 truss segment to the space station, which will increase its communications and power capacities. The crew will also upgrade the power distribution module (what is called the Station-Shuttle Power Transfer System [SSPTS]), which allows the Shuttle to remain docked for an extra three to four days by converting electricity from the station’s power supply. During the eleven-day mission, Morgan, along with other assignments such as operating the Shuttle’s robotic arm, will share her educational space experiences with students around the world.
Barbara Morgan is married to acclaimed writer Clay Morgan. They have two sons. Although he has lived much of his life in Idaho, the family now lives near the NASA Johnson Space Center (Clear Lake City), which is located just southeast of Houston, Texas. Clay publishes novels, essays, commentaries, and other writings, many based on his varied experiences while living in Idaho. While residing in Texas, Clay teaches at the University of Houston—Clear Lake and writes for NASA. More background on Clay can be found at: http://www.ncteamericancollection.org/litmap/morgan_clay_id.htm.
For additional information about NASA’s STS-118 mission, go to: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/shuttlemissions/sts118/index.html.
To read about NASA’s Educator Astronaut Program, go to: http://edspace.nasa.gov/earthcrew/news/ecn2/index.html.