NASA will launch Teacher-In-Space astronaut Barbara Morgan to the International Space Station possibly as early as 2004.
"It is time for NASA to complete the Challenger mission, to send an educator into space to inspire and teach our young people," NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe told an audience last Friday at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University in New York.
Morgan, 50, has been training as an Educator Mission Specialist astronaut since 1998.
Teacher Christa McAuliffe was the first educator scheduled for a shuttle mission. She and six other astronauts were killed on Jan. 28, 1986, when the space shuttle Challenger was destroyed in a launch explosion. NASA put the flight of citizens -- including teachers and journalists -- on hold following the Challenger disaster.
But Morgan, who entered training with McAuliffe and the Challenger crew, continued to train for space in the years following the accident until the 1998 decision to formalize her preparations by making her an astronaut. She has continued to train with other astronauts for flight aboard the shuttle but without a flight assignment.
In response to news about Morgan's prospective launch, ISS astronaut Carl Walz told an inflight news conference, "I think that's really fantastic. We wish her all the best."
THINGS WE DON'T UNDERSTAND
The actress's publicist told MTV News that the musician proposed to Anderson in the Las Vegas desert last Thursday night, adding that the couple is "extremely happy."
No wedding date has been set.
Rock, 31, and Anderson, 34, have been dating since April 2001 when they met backstage at VH1 Divas at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
This will be the first marriage for Rock, who has a son, Robert Ritchie, Jr. Anderson was previously married to ex-Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee. They split for good in 2000 and are currently battling for custody of their two sons, Brandon and Dylan.
NEWS OF OTHER LIFE FORMS
Stripper-turned-politician Koleen Brooks is shedding her clothes for Playboy. The former Georgetown, Colo., mayor was in Chicago last week to pose for pictures that'll soon appear on the Playboy magazine Web site. She tells UPI Capital Comment that posing for Playboy "was one of my life's dreams."
TODAY'S SIGN THE WORLD IS ENDING
Two teenage girls are in custody for allegedly plotting to kill their adoptive parents.
India Edwards, 15, and Shay Edwards, 16, were arrested last week after other students at Groveport Madison Middle School in Columbus, Ohio, told authorities they heard the girls discussing the alleged plot. They were charged on delinquency counts of conspiracy to commit murder and held at a juvenile detention center.
"They were mad at mom and dad," Detective Al Judy told the Columbus Dispatch. "There was nothing devastating like dramatic treatment. They were just mad."
AND FINALLY, TODAY'S UPLIFTING STORY
A 25-year-old apartment house security guard survived being shot for the second time in as many weeks last Thursday night thanks to a bulletproof vest lent to him by a concerned Los Angeles police officer.
Alex Zavala suffered only a bruise in the area of his heart after being shot in the chest at close range while working at the Plaza Vermont apartments in the city's rough Pico Union district. Another guard had been killed earlier this year and Zavala himself was shot at and narrowly missed a couple of weeks ago by a round that sliced through the sleeve of his jacket.
The guard -- who now has two bullet holes in his black security guard jacket -- would likely not be around to see his three-month-old daughter grow up had it not been for the LAPD officer who lent him a spare vest after the first shooting.
"He got shot at by gangsters who hang out at the apartment complex," Officer Tim Wunderlich told television station KCAL. "We told him to go out buy a vest and he told us he couldn't afford one because he had a 3-month-old child."
The officer offered to lend Zavala one of his extra vests until he could afford to buy his own. "I said, 'Give it back to me when you are finished, because they are going to try to kill you,'" Wunderlich said, adding that he was just glad the security guard was able to go home to his young daughter.