Christa McAuliffe (2 September 1948 – 28 January 1986) was an American teacher from Concord, New Hampshire, and was one of the seven crew members killed in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster.
She received her bachelor's degree in education and history from Framingham State College in 1970, and also 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 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 28 January 1986, the spacecraft disintegrated 73 seconds after launch. After her death, schools and scholarships were named in her honor, and also in 2004 she was posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.
The image of her jaunty stride and exuberant wave as she entered Challenger spacecraft shortly before the ill-fated mission ended in tragedy has become an icon of the 20th century. In 1984, President Ronald Reagan, in an attempt to rekindle the excitement of the early days of America's space adventures, directed that the first ordinary Unites States citizen in space would be "one of America's finest, a teacher." The energetic social studies teacher noted on her eleven-page application, "I watched the Space Age being born and I would like to participate."
As a payload specialist on the Challenger mission, she trained side by side with the other six Challenger astronauts. She prepared materials for the two lessons scheduled during the flight and planned to keep a journal, reminiscent of the journals kept by pioneer women crossing the 1800s frontier. Instead, millions of school children and adults watched horrified as the Challenger exploded only seconds after lift-off.
Christa's influence continues to touch the lives of school children and adults alike. The Christa McAuliffe Planetarium, opened in 1990 in Concord, New Hampshire, carries on her vision of educating students of all ages about astronomy and space science: "I touch the future, I teach."
Christa McAuliffe is my 15th cousin once removed.
your father → Mamie C. Nichols (Collins)
his mother → Martha Collins (BARTLETT)
her mother → Nancy Rachel Bartlett (KING)
her mother → Sarah Ann King (Bartlett)
her mother → Reuben S. BARTLETT
her father → John Garner Bartlett
his father → WILLIAM BARTLETT
his father → WILLIAM BERKLEY
his father → Margaret Bartlett
his mother → Margaret Brent
her mother → Sir John Peshall, 1st Baronet
her father → Joanna Fettiplace
his mother → Edmund Fettiplace
her father → Dorothy Fettiplace
his mother → Anne Danvers
her sister → Elizabeth Weston
her daughter → Anne Hampden (Cave, twin)
her daughter → Anne Waller
her daughter → Mary Scrope
her daughter → Deacon William Throope, "The Immigrant"
her son → William Throop
his son → Martha Throope
his daughter → John S Vaughan
her son → Frederick Vaughn
his son → David Trumble Vaughan
his son → Lucy Ann Harder
his daughter → Charles Henry Harder
her son → Charles Frederic Harder
his son → Marion Harder
his daughter → Grace Mary George
her daughter → Christa McAuliffe