NEW CASTLE — As an elementary school student, Andrew Morgan dreamed of being an astronaut.
“But as you grow, you move on to more realistic goals,” he said. “Later I knew that I wanted to be a doctor in the military.”
He never lost sight of that second goal, nor his original one. Ultimately, he achieved both.
The man who refers to New Castle as home is part of NASA’s 2013 class of eight astronauts.
His parents, Richard and Janice Morgan, live in Neshannock Township. They’ve spent all their lives there, except for the 24 years that Richard served in the Air Force while Andrew and his two brothers were growing up.
Janice Morgan said her eldest son always was interested in space.
“He drew of lot of pictures about it and was very much into Star Wars,” she said.
As a youngster, Morgan visited Johnson Space Center with his family. A family photograph shows Janice with sons Andrew and Ben holding toy space shuttles.
Morgan’s not playing with toy spaceships anymore.
“Do I relish that thought of Andrew being shot into space?” asks his mom. “As a mother, I worry, but I know that’s what he wants to do.
“I trust the Lord. That’s where I find my solace.”
Janice Morgan knew that the odds were against her son, as they were for each of the 6,100 candidates for the eight positions.
“He kept telling me that it would be a longshot, but he kept making it through each step,” she said. “When Andrew sets his mind to pursue something, he goes after it whole heartedly.”
NASA last added to its astronaut numbers in 2009, and before that, in 2004.
Janice Morgan was overwhelmed emotionally by her son’s phone call, bringing her to tears.
Richard Morgan was proud, but not surprised.