Have any of our teachers been out of this world? No, but that might change as Mrs. Gillum applied to be an astronaut and she is very close to becoming one! NASA received more than 1100 Educator Astronaut Program (EAP) applications. Mrs. Gillum passed her flight physical on August 16th and is now one of 197 finalists still being considered for the program. The EAP has been an out-of-this-world opportunity for Mrs. Gillum to become a permanent member of the NASA Astronaut Corps.

Educators with science, technology, engineering or mathematics backgrounds applied to join NASA's first Educator Astronaut class. Educator Astronauts will serve as Mission Specialists, trained to perform space walks, operate the Space Shuttle's robotic arm and lead research experiments. Educator Astronauts will also share their extraordinary experience with millions of students and teachers."

Here is the letter Mrs. Gillum received about her position so far:

There were approximately 1600 applicants for the Educator Astronaut program. Yours is one of 197 Educator Astronaut applications rated as "Superior" by NASA Headquarters. We are currently reviewing all of our astronaut candidate applications, including the superior Educator Astronaut applications forwarded from NASA Headquarters, to determine a "Highly Qualified" group. We will send evaluation forms to the supervisors and references of the highly qualified applicants and ask those applicants to undergo a medical exam. Approximately 120 applicants from the highly qualified group will be interviewed by the astronaut selection board at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Good Luck!

Paige Maultsby Ashby
Astronaut Selection Office
Johnson Space Center
Houston, TX 77058
One of Mrs. Gillum first experiences with an Astronaut.

Currently, her evaluation forms have been sent out and she has passed her flight physical.
We asked her some questions so that you can have an idea of why she wants to be an astronaut.

What made you want to become an astronaut?

" I've wanted to be an astronaut since 8th grade (1969). I had great middle school science teachers and the space program was just getting started. It's so cool to get to apply at my age (48)!

How do you feel about being 1 of 197 being considered when thousands applied?

Amazed (and very numb)! It's the 2nd time in my life (that I can remember) that I was totally speechless!! This is so incredibly exciting.

If you are chosen to be an astronaut, will it affect the way you teach your class?
If so, how will it affect your teaching?

I will be "officially" out of a specific classroom for 2 years. Those folks that know me, know I will still be in touch with my students though a web page "diary" and photos of my training in Houston at the Johnson Space Center.

Have you gone through any astronaut training? If so, what kind of training and for how long?

I have not experienced any "astronaut" training, but I am currently working out twice a day. I spend six days a week jogging 30 minutes (2 1/2 miles-working on 3), using a weight machine for 30-45 minutes and swimming 175-200 meters.

If you are chosen, do you know when you would go up to in space? How long of a trip would it be?
What would you be doing?

I won't know if I make it until next Spring. Then, it's a two year move to Houston, with one year of training and one year with a "shuttle team" training. I have no idea when I'd get to go up. The first planned mission with this group is 2005.

Is there anything else you would like people to know about this experience?

Never, never, never give up your dreams! Who would have thought my 8th grade dream might become a reality at age 48? Life is so awesome and we have such incredible opportunities here in America. We are truly blessed!