Administrator Unveils Future Vision and a Renewed Journey of Learning

Press Release From: NASA HQ
Posted: Friday, April 12, 2002

In his first major address since being sworn into office, NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe today outlined his strategic vision for the agency's future, including a component designed to inspire and educate a new generation of explorers and scientists.

The Administrator shared his vision of NASA's future in a speech at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, located on the campus of Syracuse University. U.S. Rep. Sherwood L. Boehlert, who oversees the agency as Chairman of the House Science Committee, and U.S. Rep. James T. Walsh, who heads the House subcommittee that supervises NASA's budget, both of New York, joined Administrator O'Keefe at Maxwell.

"The nation faces extraordinary new challenges. The world is changing, and if NASA is going to exploit these new opportunities then America's space program must also change," said Administrator O'Keefe. "Our future decisions will be science-driven, not destination-driven. The investments we make today must be justified by their contributions to the long-range goals of the agency."

Administrator O'Keefe spelled out NASA's vision and mission:

The new NASA vision for the future is:

To improve life here,
To extend life to there,
To find life beyond

The NASA mission is:

To understand and protect our home planet
To explore the Universe and search for life
To inspire the next generation of explorers
. . . as only NASA can

In his speech titled "Pioneering the Future," Administrator O'Keefe outlined the importance of inspiring a new generation of explorers through education. "Education is part of our core mission," added Administrator O'Keefe.

In an effort to take students on a new journey of learning, the Administrator unveiled plans for a new type of space explorer -- an Educator Mission Specialist. Shortly after completion of the core elements of the International Space Station in 2004, NASA will send Barbara Morgan, the agency's first Educator Mission Specialist, into space.

Morgan was selected as the backup candidate in 1985 for the Teacher in Space program. She trained side-by-side with Christa McAuliffe and the Challenger crew at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston. The Teacher in Space program ended when Challenger exploded Jan. 28, 1986, killing McAuliffe and her six crewmates.

"The time has come for NASA to complete the mission -- to send an educator to space to inspire and teach our young people," Administrator O'Keefe said. "Working in partnership with Education Secretary Rod Paige, we will make Barbara's flight the first in a series of missions in the new Educator in Space program."

Administrator O'Keefe said it is fitting that Morgan complete the mission of STS-51L. "For the past 16 years, Barbara has worked with NASA and countless science organizations, keeping alive Christa McAuliffe's inspiration. She is uniquely qualified to take our students on a journey of education that only NASA could make possible."

The new vision for the agency builds on NASA's unique capabilities as the nation's premiere aeronautics and aerospace research and technology organization. "The biggest difference is that we will let specific science objectives tell us where to go," concluded Administrator O'Keefe. "NASA's mission of discovery will be carried out with a new commitment to fiscal responsibility and the synergy that comes from working with other government agencies, private industry and academia."

The complete text of the Administrator's address and additional supporting material are available on the Internet at:

Additional information about Education Mission Specialist Barbara Morgan is online at:

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