NASA announces Educator Astronaut Program
Posted: January 21, 2003

Administrator Sean O'Keefe and Florida First Lady Columba Bush today outlined a unique NASA program designed to show learning in a whole new light by giving students and teachers across the country an out-of-this-world experience.

Mrs. Bush joined the Administrator at Hardy Middle School in Washington to make the recruitment call to a group of eager students, teachers, and education professionals.

"I am proud of Florida's unique role in our nation's space program. In order for that program to enjoy continued success, we must excite school children into learning about science and mathematics," said Fla. First Lady Bush. "This program is wonderful because it will reveal the endless possibilities of space exploration to a new generation, just like many of the today's NASA scientists were inspired by a similar calling in the 1960's," she said.

The program's goals are to generate renewed interest in science and mathematics and cultivate a new generation of scientists and engineers by nominating and recruiting educators for NASA's astronaut corps.

"NASA leads the most ambitious exploration and scientific research efforts in history," said Administrator O'Keefe. "It's a legacy that is in jeopardy unless we find innovative ways to get students and the entire education community excited about mathematics and science. We believe the Educator Astronaut Program will help us fulfill our mandate to inspire that next generation of explorers," he said.

Teachers who want the chance to join the Educator Astronaut Program may apply using the Educator Astronaut website at: The application deadline is April 30, 2003. Educators with questions about the program, or who do not have access to the Internet, can call (877/332-7876) toll-free.

NASA will review the applications and select Educator Astronaut candidates to begin training at the Johnson Space Center in Houston to join the astronaut corps. After graduation, new Educator Astronauts will be eligible for a Space Shuttle flight assignment as fully trained Mission Specialists.

"Educator Astronauts will be able to provide a direct connection between America's teachers and students, and the various careers and opportunities associated with space exploration through the Nation's aerospace program," said Associate Administrator for Education Dr. Adena Williams Loston, who will manage the program in Washington. "Education has always been a part of NASA's mission, and we have renewed our commitment to get students excited about science, technology, engineering and mathematics again," Loston said.

Teachers and representatives from approximately 15 national education organizations and associations, including the Challenger Center for Space Science Education, the National Science Teachers Association and Virginia's 2002 Teacher of the Year, joined NASA at today's announcement. NASA is also working with industry, and other federal, state and local governments to engage educators, students and the public.

Over the next several weeks, NASA Astronaut Leland Melvin and Educator Debbie Brown will act as co-managers and ambassadors of the program, visiting a number of cities to engage the public in the experience of space flight, to explain the program and its many opportunities.

Students, educators, parents, and anyone interested in participating in the program are invited to join the Educator Astronaut "Earth Crew." The Earth Crew is a web- based interactive initiative linking audiences with education activities and programs, astronaut profiles, and basic information about NASA, living and working in space.

"A program this ambitious is needed. Our country needs more students and educators devoted to science and technology," concluded Administrator O'Keefe. "The Educator Astronaut Program will help us accomplish this vital goal necessary to secure our future."

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