Wednesday, August 08, 2007


This is Barbara Morgan. Twenty years ago, she didn't get a job she applied for.

Christa McAuliffe got it instead.

I've seen footage of the Teacher In Space announcement ceremony; Barbara and Christa both in sensible pastel Diane Chambers Wear, Christa's hands going to her mouth as she walked forward, Barbara applauding and smiling politely. It'll freeze your vertebrae if you think too hard about the implications of that moment; one got a death sentence, the other became, at the age of 55, a weightless symbol of patience and second chances. Hardly what either of them imagined when they heard on the news that NASA calling for education volunteers.

Barbara hung around the job market. In December of 2002, she was at last named to the crew of STS-118, scheduled to fly in late 2003.

STS-118 was assigned to Columbia.

Today, after one to-be lost on launch and another on the landing, was Barbara Morgan's first day at work. This is what it looked like. It is far different, far different from what I stared at from a parochial school classroom twenty-one years ago.

She rode on Endeavor, which didn't even exist when Barbara first applied as a Teacher in Space. This vehicle is Challenger's replacement.

I missed the launch today. I never miss launches. I missed this one; my husband and I were loading a moving van with Pile O' Castoffs from various family members. We snapped at each other via cell phone this afternoon when he pulled off an on-ramp in the truck after he lost me in the BrideMobile at a traffic light. There were no professional photographers present, as this aspect of marriage is rarely mentioned in the little wedding scrapbook kits available in the "Making Memories" aisle: "First time we nearly hung up on one another in mutual fits of rage." Little stickers of frowny brides and grooms and a sagging top cake tier.

It would be easy to twist the diamonds from my finger and announce that I didn't apply for this; I applied for new towels and a set of highball glasses and every woman I know sighing, "You look like a princess."

But marriage doesn't end with the wedding, and this is what I chose, far later than I thought I would. "I've only been married nine days," my husband pointed out when I tearfully confronted him on some sort of already-forgotten husband offense. It will take us time. It took Barbara Morgan time, and this isn't the way, I am sure, she would have preferred to become a teacher in space.

It's not at all what she expected.

She put on her helmet anyway.

strapping in at:


red pill junkie said...


PS: You guys might want to take a look at an interview of Barbara Mogan's husband, Clay. In this marriage HE happens to be the writer.

Jules said...

My senior year biology teacher was one of the final 10 selected for that ill-fated shuttle flight.

I remember that I was sitting in my dorm cafeteria eating some breakfast before my morning class watching the TV and then of course, the explosion - and I remember feeling very, very sad but also extremely relieved that my beloved Mr. Boyarsky didn't make the ultimate cut.

Anonymous said...

I also watched the event from my parochial school class...Reading a bio about her I realized she rearranged her entire life for this day. I wonder if she ever regrets it? I also missed the launch when I said I would watch it...but I don't recall why.
I have been married for 11 years to a wonderful husband and father, and hope that each day of learning patience gets me through this lifetime.
Sometimes I still want to hang up on him though :)

classickelly21 said...

Hope you and Josh make it through your first disagreement. Some times people say the fight is worth it b/c of how you can make up.

Monica said...

This blog entry was a jem, MB. You are a gifted storyteller. I just thought I should tell you that. So often we, your loyal readers, comment on WHAT you say. I thought it was about time that I praised the WAY that you say it.

Chelsea said...

Wow. MB, that was amazing. Thank you.

SaharaChick said...

This was a great post! I DID get to watch the launch (even if it was from 50 miles away).
Believe me, I know about fights with JTP! Hang in there. They say the first 7 years...nevermind.
Thanks for the reminder about the Teachers In Space. I pray to God that you'll never see THIS teacher in space! LOL. Have a great weekend you two! Love ya.

college gal said...

The stories you tell and the little anecdotes about your life are entertaining. But I think I need to echo Monica and say that it is your gift for writing that keeps us loyal readers coming back to your blog, day in and day out.

Kudos to an excellent author!

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