NASA Found A Poignant Way To Honor The Teacher Killed In The Challenger Disaster

Christa McAuliffe was one of seven who died in the Challenger disaster over 30 years ago.

More than 30 years after the Challenger disaster, the lesson plans of crew member Christa McAuliffe will finally be taught where the Boston teacher intended them to be taught: in space. The lives of McAuliffe and the six astronauts on board were lost on Jan. 28, 1986 when the Space Shuttle exploded 73 seconds after launch. This year, in honor of their legacy, NASA announced the lesson plans McAuliffe created for the mission will be conducted later this year on the International Space Station.

While some will be updated based on the materials aboard the space station, some will be completed by astronauts Joe Acaba and Ricky Arnoldas as McAuliffe originally wrote. The clips will be released this spring alongside classroom lesson plans. 

"Filming Christa McAuliffe's lessons in orbit this year is an incredible way to honor and remember her and the Challenger crew," Mike Kincaid, Associate Administrator for NASA's Office of Education said in a statement. "Developed with such care and expertise by Christa, the value these lessons will have as new tools available for educators to engage and inspire students in science, technology, education and math is what will continue to advance a true legacy of Challenger's mission."

As an agency, NASA has continued to honor that legacy through the creation of the Challenger Center, a program in 40 cities across the country that develops and provides hands-on educational opportunities for 250,000 students each year. 

"As the living legacy of the Challenger crew, we are thrilled to work with NASA's educator astronauts to bring Christa's lessons to life," Lance Bush, president and CEO, Challenger Center said in a statement.

The Space Shuttle Challenger crew: Payload Specialists Christa McAuliffe and Gregory B. Jarvis, Mission Specialist Judith A. Resnik, Commander Francis R. Scobee, Mission Specialist Ronald E. McNair, Pilot Michael J. Smith, Mission Specialist Ellison S. Onizuka.
The Space Shuttle Challenger crew: Payload Specialists Christa McAuliffe and Gregory B. Jarvis, Mission Specialist Judith A. Resnik, Commander Francis R. Scobee, Mission Specialist Ronald E. McNair, Pilot Michael J. Smith, Mission Specialist Ellison S. Onizuka. NASA

McAuliffe, who would have been the first American civilian in space, found herself on the mission through NASA's Teacher in Space program launched in 1984 with the goal of honoring educators and inspiring students' interest in the STEM fields. NASA selected the social studies teacher from a pool of 11,000 applicants. 

"I cannot join the space program and restart my life as an astronaut," McAuliffe wrote in her application. "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. I watched the Space Age being born and I would like to participate."

Cover image via NASA

(H/T: Mashable)

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