Christa McAuliffe

Educator. Born Sharon Christa Corrigan on September 2, 1948, in Framingham, Massachusetts. Christa McAuliffe was the first American civilian selected to go into space in 1985. A well-regarded and beloved high school teacher in Concord, New Hampshire, she had developed a course called “The American Woman.” This course helped her win a competition held by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to decide who would be the first teacher in space.

After being selected in 1985, Christa McAuliffe went through extensive training at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. On January 28, 1986, McAuliffe boarded the space shuttle Challenger at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Along with the rest of the crew, she waited for her field trip to space to begin. This was not to be, unfortunately. The space shuttle exploded shortly after liftoff, killing everyone on board. This tragic accident sent shockwaves around the world.

Christa McAuliffe left behind a husband and two young children. As a tribute to her memory, she received the Congressional Space Medal of Honor. McAuliffe has also been honored with an asteroid and a moon crater, both bearing her name. Another tribute, the Christa Corrigan McAuliffe Center, was created at Framingham State College where she had graduated from in 1970.