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10 Teachers Make Grade as Finalists for Shuttle

July 01, 1985|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The space agency today named six women and four men as finalists for a much-sought berth on the space shuttle as the first schoolteacher to go into space.

The 10 teachers, none of them from California, include both of Idaho's semi-finalists and individual teachers from Maryland, Indiana, Virginia, Texas, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts and West Virginia.

They range in age from 33 to 45. They topped a field of 114 semifinalists and more than 10,000 teachers who initially sought the seat President Reagan promised last year to set aside for a teacher.

The 10 are: Kathleen Anne Beres, 36, of Baltimore; Robert Foerster, 34, West Lafayette, Ind.; Judith Garcia, 44, Alexandria, Va.; Peggy Lathlaen, 34, Friendswood, Tex.; David Marquart, 43, Boise, Ida.; Sharon McAuliffe, 36, Concord, N.H.; Michael Metcalf, 39, Hardwick, Vt.; Richard Methia, 40, New Bedford, Mass.; Barbara Morgan, 33, McCall, Ida., and Niki Wenger, 45, Parkersburg, W.Va.

James Beggs, administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, will pick the winner and a backup candidate near the end of July following medical tests and interviews for the 10 starting next week at Johnson Space Center in Houston.

The winning teacher will go on a flight of the shuttle Challenger scheduled to lift off Jan. 22, 1986, from Cape Canaveral, Fla.

At a news conference here, Methia said the object is "raising the prestige of the teaching profession. . . . Lately, it's been on hard times." He said he also wanted to provide what one of his students called "brag rights."

"How many 40-year-olds do you know who get to play Peter Pan?" the Massachusetts teacher asked.

Metcalf, a former Air Force captain, said, "I'm as tickled as a kid with a green egg to be here." He is the only experienced pilot in the group.

Beres, the Maryland teacher, who recently crossed the Atlantic in a 31-foot sailboat with three friends, said she has been dreaming of space since she was 9 when she named a pet turtle "Sputnik."

The finalists were chosen by an unusual panel of educators, former astronauts and celebrities--including actress Pam Dawber, who starred with space alien Mork on television's "Mork and Mindy," and former basketball star Wes Unseld--from among 114 semifinalists interviewed here last week.

The 10 finalists will be flown to Johnson Space Center in Houston on July 7 for several days of medical tests, briefings and simulated weightlessness. They will return to Washington July 15 for interviews with senior NASA officials.

The two teachers Beggs selects will start training for the flight in September and both will perform public relations chores for NASA for up to a year after the flight.

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