Wednesday, September 2, 2009

September 2: Christa McAuliffe

Sharon Christa Corrigan McAuliffe
September 2, 1948 – January 28, 1986

Sharon Christa Corrigan McAuliffe née Sharon Christa Corrigan, was an American teacher from Concord, New Hampshire. McAuliffe was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and received her bachelor's degree in education and history from Framingham State College in 1970, and a Master of Arts from Bowie State University in 1978. She took a teaching post as a social studies teacher at Concord High School in New Hampshire in 1982.

In 1985, McAuliffe was selected from more than 11,000 applicants to participate in the NASA Teacher in Space Project, and she was scheduled to become the first teacher in space. As a member of mission STS-51-L, she was planning to conduct experiments and teach two lessons from Space Shuttle Challenger. On January 28, 1986, her spacecraft disintegrated 73 seconds after launch, and she was one of seven crew members killed in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. After her death, schools and scholarships were named in her honor, and in 2004 she was awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.

I cannot join the space program and restart my life as an astronaut, but this opportunity to connect my abilities as an educator with my interests in history and space is a unique opportunity to fulfill my early fantasies.
—Christa McAuliffe, 1985

McAuliffe's remains were buried at Blossom Hill Cemetery in Concord, NH. She has since been honored at many events, including the Daytona 500 auto race in 1986. The Christa McAuliffe Planetarium/McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center in Concord and the Christa Corrigan McAuliffe Center for Education and Teaching Excellence at Framingham State College are named in her memory, as are the asteroid 3352 McAuliffe, the crater McAuliffe on the Moon, and a crater on the planet Venus, which was named McAuliffe by the Soviet Union. Approximately 40 schools around the world have been named after her, including the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center in Pleasant Grove, Utah.

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