30 years later: Christa McAuliffe's enduring legacy

January 24. 2016 1:05AM

This is Christa McAuliffe's official NASA portrait. (NASA)

The Challenger disaster that ended NASA's vision of sending civilians into space had a profound impact here in New Hampshire, where Christa McAuliffe lived and taught.

In the summer of 1985, McAuliffe had been selected from among more than 11,000 applicants to be the space agency's first Teacher in Space. A social studies teacher at Concord High School, she planned to teach two lessons that would be carried live for schoolchildren during her mission on the space shuttle Challenger, scheduled for launch in January 1986.

Her adopted state of New Hampshire had enthusiastically embraced the vivacious woman who was passionate about teaching and wanted to inspire future generations to “reach for the stars.”

After McAuliffe and her six crewmates died when Challenger exploded shortly after liftoff on the frigid morning of Jan. 28, 1986, folks in Concord wrapped their protective arms around her family. And New Hampshire leaders vowed to honor our Teacher in Space with a “living memorial.”

Thirty years later, her legacy and mission continue.

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