Barbara Morgan
Dave Einsel  /  AP
Astronaut Barbara Morgan discusses her upcoming space shuttle mission with students during, "Meet an Astronaut Day" at Space Center Houston, Friday, Jan. 19, 2007.
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 1/19/2007 8:58:42 PM ET 2007-01-20T01:58:42

When former teacher Barbara Morgan blasts into space this year — she knows people will be thinking about the late Christa McAuliffe.

Morgan today said she'll be among them.

The Fresno-Calif. native, who taught school in Idaho, was McAuliffe's understudy for the 1986 Challenger flight. Challenger broke up just 73 seconds after launch, killing the entire seven-person crew.

Now 55, Morgan is full-fledged member of NASA's astronaut corps, and part of the Space Shuttle Endeavour's STS-118 crew, scheduled to launch in June.

Morgan, who is NASA's first "educator astronaut," says she isn't deterred by the accident that killed McAuliffe, who taught in New Hampshire, saying that "you weigh the risks."

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