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Profile of the Day: Christa McAuliffe

On this day in 1948, high school teacher Christa McAuliffe was born in Boston, Massachusetts. McAuliffe made history when she became the first American civilian to be selected to go into space. Sadly, she died in the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger in 1986.

Image: Christa McAuliffe / NASA

In 1985, McAuliffe was selected to participate in the NASA Teacher in Space Project and become the first teacher to go to space. The purpose of the program was to inspire students, honor teachers, and spur interest in mathematics, science, and space exploration. NASA also hoped the project would help to increase public interest in the space program and to demonstrate the reliability of space flight during a time the agency was under pressure to find financial support. While on board the Challenger, McAuliffe was to perform experiments and teach two classes in space.

On January 28, 1986, McAuliffe and six other crew members boarded the Challenger in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Just 73 seconds into the flight, the space shuttle exploded, killing all crew members on board.

In 2004, McAuliffe and the other astronauts lost in the Challenger accident were posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Meal of Honor by President George W. Bush.

Explore Christa McAuliffe’s family tree on Geni and share how you’re connected!

View Christa McAuliffe’s Geni Profile

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