Christa McAuliffe - The Space Shuttle Challenger Astronaut Teacher
Sharon Christa McAuliffe was an American teacher from Concord, New Hampshire. She was one of seven crew members who perished in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster.
Born: September 2, 1948 in Boston, MA
Died: January 28, 1986 in Cape Canaveral, FL
Space Missions: STS-51-L
Spouse: Steven J. McAuliffe (married 1970-1986)
Children: Caroline Corrigan, Scott Corrigan
Selected for Space Mission : McAuliffe was an extraordinary teacher with a dream of riding on the space shuttle. So when the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced a contest to take a teacher into space, McAuliffe jumped at the chance and applied. She won the contest, beating out more than 11,000 other applicants. Vice President George H.W. Bush delivered the good news at a special ceremony at the White House: He said that McAuliffe was going to be the "first private citizen passenger in the history of space flight," according to a report in The New York Times.
'Challenger' Tragedy :: On January 28, 1986, McAuliffe's friends and family, including her two young children, anxiously watched and waited for the Challenger space shuttle to take off from the Kennedy Space Center in Orlando, Florida. Shortly after lift-off, the shuttle exploded. Everyone aboard perished.
A shocked nation mourned the passing of the seven crew members of the Challenger. President Ronald Reagan spoke of the crew as heroes shortly after the accident. "This America, which Abraham Lincoln called the last, best hope of man on Earth, was built on heroism and noble sacrifice. It was built by men and women like our seven star voyagers, who answered a call beyond duty, who gave more than was expected or required and who gave it little thought of worldly reward," Reagan stated. NASA spent months analyzing the incident, later determining that problems with the right solid rocket motor had been the primary cause of the disaster.
Lasting Legacy :: After her death, this courageous educator received the Congressional Space Medal of Honor. As a tribute to her memory, a planetarium in Concord has been named after her as well as an asteroid and a crater on the moon. The Christa Corrigan McAuliffe Center at Framingham State College was established to support teachers and offers science and mathematics programs.