It has been twenty years since Christa McAuliffe reached for the stars. Her launch into the sky on the space shuttle, Challenger, literally became what she had previously anticipated as being, "The Ultimate Field Trip." What truly prophetic words they were.
When NASA determined that they would send a civilian into space, President Reagan decided that the individual should be a teacher. Over 11,000 educators applied for the privilege, and the finalist selected was Christa McAuliffe, a social studies teacher from Concord, New Hampshire. Christa viewed the space launch as an opportunity to encourage interest in space exploration and astronomy, as well as the chance to promote the teaching profession.
To prepare for the journey, she received training and was considered as part of the team by the astronauts on board. Since this space launch was a very special one, the media coverage was heavy. No one could have foreseen the impending tragedy that awaited the Challenger. Just one minute and thirteen seconds after being launched, as America watched, the space shuttle exploded.
Although she did not live to see it, her impact was profound. Through her legacy, she is still teaching. In Concord, New Hampshire, her dream lives on in the Christa McAuliffe Planetarium. At her alma mater, Framingham State College, Massachusetts, there is the Christa McAuliffe Center and the Christa Corrigan McAuliffe Papers, a special collection of the Henry Whittemore Library. There is an online private school named for her, Christa McAuliffe Academy, and public schools named for her in California, Florida, Washington, Texas, New York, Minnesota, Colorado, Massachusetts, Maryland, South Dakota, New Jersey, and Illinois. Her memory has also been honored by the Astronauts Memorial Foundation.
Christa's motto was, "I touch the future: I teach." She lived up to her motto, and she is still living up to it.