Part #1: Astronaut who calls New Castle 'home' selected for ISS - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Part #1: Astronaut who calls New Castle 'home' selected for ISS mission

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NESHANNOCK TWP., Lawrence Co. Pa. -

Next summer, an Army officer, and astronaut with ties to the Shenango Valley will blast off to the International Space Station. 

Lt. Col. (Dr.) Andrew Morgan, who calls New Castle home because of his family ties to the area, will become the first Army Medical Corp officer launched into space. 

"Exciting, because this is what our entire career is built toward," said Morgan. "There are two big events in the life of an astronaut; one is when you are selected as an astronaut and then the next big event is when you are assigned to your first mission."

NASA assigned Morgan to his first mission next summer. He'll launch from Russia in a Russian Soyuz rocket and spacecraft. After retiring the Space Shuttle in 2011, NASA doesn't currently have a spacecraft it can launch on U.S. soil. 

After about a 15-minute ride, Morgan and two other crew members; a Russian cosmonaut and an Italian astronaut, will rendezvous with the International Space Station where they will work and live for six to seven months. 

"I certainly look forward to that opportunity to look down on Earth through the window and just have that vantage point. But the whole experience; the entire thing from training to launch, launching and then living on board the space station for over six months, it's hard to beat, a pretty fun job," said Morgan.

Morgan's out of this world journey began as a young child who was always interested in space and science.

He ultimately decided to pursue a military career and graduated from West Point. He then went to medical school and served in a special forces unit in Iraq and Afghanistan as a battalion surgeon. 

In 2013, NASA selected Morgan to be an astronaut out of more than 6,000 applicants. 

"That just blew me away, it was very emotional for me," Morgan said.

While Morgan has never lived in New Castle, he's always called it home. His parents, Rick and Jan Morgan, have lived in Neshannock Township for the past 15 years. His grandparents are also from the area. 

"My grandparents and parents are from this area and my dad served as an Air Force officer for 23 years and it was important for me growing up to have a place I could call home with all that moving around and this is where I came to," said Morgan. "I spent many 4th's of July right here at Pearson Park and almost every one of these pavilions out here I have memories associated with being there."

Now six years later, Morgan will get a pretty great view of home while making NASA history as the first Army doctor to go to space.

"This is a fulfillment of the service to my country and I've been serving my country for the last 20 years as an Army officer and I view my service at NASA as an astronaut as a continuation of that service," said Morgan.

Only this service will take place 245 miles above the Earth's surface. 

Tune in Wednesday night on 21 News at 11 for Part 2 of Lt. Col. Andrew Morgan's story. We'll give you insight into all the training Morgan has to go through to be ready for this mission. We'll also hear from his proud parents who live in Neshannock Township. 

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