Wouldn’t it be great to be in 10 places at once? That’s what Educator Astronaut Joe Acaba will be doing April 19 and 20 – virtually, at least.

NASA’s Digital Learning Network and the agency’s Explorer Schools project are teaming up to host the “STS-118 Relay Rally,” a virtual tour of NASA’s 10 field centers. Each day, several NASA centers, along with an Explorer School from each of their regions, will interact with Acaba, questioning him about astronaut training, shuttle missions and whatever else piques their interest.

NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and Pine Ridge Middle School, a NASA Explorer School in Naples, Fla., will be featured on April 19. All videoconference participants will be able to interact with the other centers and Acaba.

Even though only the school participants will be able to ask questions each day, the event will be webcast live, so students across the nation will be able to watch and learn.

Each of NASA’s 10 centers contributes different skills to every space shuttle mission. The STS-118 Relay Rally will give participants and viewers a better idea of this teamwork.

The centers featured during the April 19 event will be Johnson Space Center in Houston; Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.; Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.; Glenn Research Center in Cleveland; Kennedy Space Center; and Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.

Featured April 20 will be Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Miss.; Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, Calif.; Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.; and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. Johnson Space Center will be included both days, since Acaba will be participating from there.

Educator astronauts are classroom teachers who have completed training to become mission specialist astronauts. Currently, there are four educator astronauts.

After teaching math and science in a high school for one year and middle school for four years, Acaba was selected an educator astronaut in May 2004. In February 2006, he completed astronaut candidate training that included scientific and technical briefings, intensive instruction in shuttle and International Space Station systems, physiological training, T-38 flight training and water and wilderness survival training. Upon completion of his training, Acaba was assigned to the Hardware Integration Team in the Space Station Branch working technical issues with European Space Agency hardware. He will serve in technical assignments until assigned to a spaceflight.

Through the NASA Explorer Schools project, NASA enters partnerships with selected schools to bring engaging science, technology, engineering and mathematics lessons to educators, students and families. A competitive application process and selection of new Explorer Schools occur each spring. With this project, NASA continues its tradition of investing in the nation’s educational systems. The project is directly tied to the agency’s major education goal of attracting and retaining students in science, technology, engineering and math disciplines.

The STS-118 flight of Space Shuttle Endeavour will be the first flight of Educator Astronaut and Mission Specialist Barbara Morgan and an important step in the ongoing assembly of the International Space Station. Commanding Morgan’s STS-118 mission will be U.S. Navy Commander Scott Kelly. The pilot for the mission is Marine Lt. Col. Charlie Hobaugh. The flight’s mission specialists are Morgan, Rick Mastracchio, Tracy Caldwell, Clay Anderson and Dave Williams, a Canadian Space Agency astronaut. The mission will take Anderson to the International Space Station to begin a stay and return to Earth the station’s Expedition 15 Flight Engineer Suni Williams, now on the orbiting laboratory.

For more information on the STS-118 Relay Rally or to watch this live webcast, visit:


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