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The astronaut's husband

NBC News
Clay Morgan is supportive of his

astronaut-wife's space aspirations.

Educator-astronaut Barbara Morgan is the star of the show today - but her husband, Clay, has made a name for himself as well, as a published author. While Mrs. Morgan went through space training at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Mr. Morgan wrote up a history of the shuttle-Mir program for the space agency, and you can read his work online.

Clay Morgan is better-known for his fiction, however, including a well-received novel for middle-schoolers titled "The Boy Who Spoke Dog." His reflections on the life of a writer sheds light on the life of his astronaut wife as well.

As most readers must know by now, Barbara Morgan was the backup trainee for schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe for the 1986 Challenger shuttle mission that ended so disastrously. In the publicity material from his publisher, Clay Morgan mentions the impact of the Challenger accident:

"The Challenger accident changed many people’s lives. It made us realize that we needed children. Our two fine knuckleheaded sons were born back in McCall, Idaho, on the shores of Payette Lake."

Clay Morgan said "The Boy Who Spoke Dog" - about a kid who could understand the language of canines - came from the bedtime stories he told his sons. Now there's a sequel, "The Boy Who Returned From the Sea," which is due to come out in September.

There's much more to the Morgan saga than NASA: The two spent the first year of their marriage in Ecuador, where Barbara taught English and science while Clay wrote his first novel, "Aura." Their year in South America strongly influenced Clay's second novel, "Santiago and the Drinking Party." Along the way, Clay has put in time as an editor, a firefighting smokejumper and an NPR commentator.

Mr. and Mrs. Morgan have clearly found ways to accommodate each other's careers through the years - and for at least the next couple of weeks, Barbara will be in the spotlight while Clay will be the steady spouse on the sidelines. Before the launch, Barbara Morgan told NBC News that her family is "very proud of space exploration and the program" - while Clay Morgan said he understood his wife's tenacious 22-year-long drive to go into space.

"I think she has the sense that this has to be done," he said. "She owes it to teachers."