Shuttle Endeavour blasted beyond the Earth's atmosphere Wednesday evening, finally fulfilling a challenge laid out by US President Reagan in 1984 to put a teacher in space.
Endeavour roared from the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center at 6:36 p.m. – exactly on schedule -- in front of a cheering crowd of thousands, including many of the teachers who originally competed with Barbara Morgan and her predecessor, Christa McAuliffe, to be the first teacher in space.
"Morgan racing toward space on the wings of a legacy," NASA mission commentator Rob Navias said as Endeavour rose into a hazy blue sky. It was built in 1991 to replace Challenger, which exploded 73 seconds after liftoff in 1986, killing McAuliffe and six other astronauts. Ten minutes later, the shuttle slid into orbit 140 miles up. Said Navias, "For Barbara Morgan and her crewmates, class is in session."