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US and Chinese astronauts share teaching experiences in space

Updated: 2022-04-04 12:11 ( China Daily )
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The Teacher in Space Project of NASA, announced by the late US president Ronald Reagan in 1984, was the world's first attempt to send teachers to orbiting spacecraft and give lessons to students.

However, the program was suspended following the death of its first participant, Christa McAuliffe, in the space shuttle Challenger tragedy in January 1986 and the plan was canceled in 1990.

More than 21 years after McAuliffe's passing, her backup in the Teacher in Space Project-Barbara Morgan, who spent most of her teaching career at the McCall-Donnelly Elementary School in McCall, Idaho, the United States-completed the world's first space-based educational activity on Aug 14, 2007, while on board the International Space Station. She flew to the ISS during the STS-118 mission in the Endeavour space shuttle and served as a robotic arm operator.

During the 25-minute event, Morgan answered questions from students, showed them how to exercise and drink water in space and told them that being an astronaut was similar to being a teacher to an extent, both were excellent jobs and about exploring, learning, discovering and sharing.

One week before Chinese astronaut Wang Yaping hosted her first lesson from space in June 2013, Morgan wrote a letter to her.

"On behalf of teachers and students around the world, I send you greetings of honor and love as you orbit our Earth and prepare to teach your lessons from space. We are proud of you," the US astronaut wrote. "You will be very busy up there, but please remember to take time to look out the window. China and all the world are beautiful."

Wang replied to Morgan in an e-mail from her spacecraft soon after she finished the lecture.

"Today we successfully completed a science lecture from space. We shared the wonders and beauties of the universe with tens of millions of Chinese students and gained knowledge and joy. I hope that you and other teachers and students around the world like it," the letter read. "This space contains humankind's magnificent aspirations while knowledge is the ladder toward outer space. We wish that we could work together with you to inspire youngsters around the globe to pursue science and truth about the universe."

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