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Process To Pick Journalist For Space Trip Resumes With AM-Space Shuttle

February 13, 1986

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) _ The process to choose the first journalist in space has resumed 16 days after the shuttle Challenger exploded, killing all seven crew members, project organizers said Thursday.

Schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe, who would have been the first ″ordinary citizen″ in space, died with six other crew members in the Jan. 28 explosion just after liftoff.

NASA officials in Washington announced Thursday that the program to put civilians in space would continue, and Barbara Morgan, a teacher from McCall, Idaho, said she would accept the invitation to become the next civilian in space.

Mrs. Morgan was the alternate teacher chosen for the Challenger flight and trained with Mrs. McAuliffe for several months.

The timetable for those flights is in limbo as investigators continue to try to determine what went wrong with Challenger.

″We believe the (journalist) project is important for its role in providing a free flow of information to the public, which is an essential role that journalists play in a democratic society,″ said Robert Hoskins, dean of Arkansas State University’s college of journalism.

Hoskins is president of the Association of Schools of Journalism and Mass Communication, which is administering the selection process.

The 1,703 journalists who have applied for a space mission are being notified that review panels will begin meeting March 3 to begin the first stage of the selection process, said Jack Bass, public affairs coordinator for the Journalist-In-Space Project.

″No applicants have asked that their names be withdrawn since the Challenger accident,″ said project Director Eric Johnson. ″Very strong support has been expressed that it is important for the program to continue.″

Panels will choose 100 semifinalists, 20 in each of five regions, to be announced in April. Those candidates then will be narrowed to eight from each region, with the names announced in May. After physicials, briefings and interviews, a finalist and alternate will be selected.

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