WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed into law a bill creating a commemorative $1 coin honoring the late Space Shuttle Challenger teacher/astronaut Christa McAuliffe of Concord.
“Today, the President honored the legacy and accomplishments of teacher, astronaut, and Concord-native Christa McAuliffe, who tragically passed away in the 1986 Challenger disaster,” a White House official said. “With the President’s signature, the ‘Christa McAuliffe Commemorative Coin Act of 2019’ will create hundreds of thousands of U.S.-government issued silver dollar coins to further memorialize Christa’s significant contributions to America’s storied history of excellence in education and space exploration.”
The Christa McAuliffe Commemorative Coin Act of 2019 was sponsored by U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, and introduced on Jan. 28, the 33rd anniversary of the Challenger tragedy.
Shaheen has been pursuing this legislation since 2016. This year, 81 of the 100 senators signed on as cosponsors.
McAuliffe died in the Challenger disaster in 1986. The Challenger crew included McAuliffe, Dick Scobee, Gregory Jarvis, Judith Resnik, Ronald McNair, Mike Smith and Ellison Onizuka.
The bill furthers the U.S. commitment to science, technology, engineering and mathematics, with proceeds from the coin supporting STEM education.
“I’m heartened by the bipartisan support that ushered this bill through Congress, which will create a truly fitting tribute in Christa McAuliffe’s memory,” Shaheen said in a statement.
“Forging a coin in her likeness with proceeds bolstering STEM education not only ensures generations of Granite Staters and Americans know her story, but it continues her mission to get kids involved in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.”
“I am thrilled that the Christa McAuliffe Commemorative Coin Act has been signed into law, helping ensure that her remarkable legacy — and that of the entire Challenger crew — lives on,” said U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-NH, in a statement. “This coin will also continue Christa McAuliffe’s work of engaging more young people in the STEM fields by using the proceeds from the coins to support the FIRST Robotics program.”
“Christa McAuliffe was driven by a mission to inspire young minds and made great strides in the education community,” said Sen. Mike Enzi, R-WY, in a statement. “The Christa McAuliffe Commemorative Coin Act will help honor her memory by advancing STEM opportunities for students. I hope people will get a coin of their own to support this cause.”All surcharges collected by the Treasury will be donated to FIRST Robotics, the Manchester-based nonprofit founded by Dean Kamen, which helps students become leaders in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
“I was proud to co-lead the Christa McAuliffe Commemorative Coin Act of 2019 and work to pass it through the House, and I’m pleased that the President signed it into law today,” said U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas, D-NH, in a statement.. “Christa McAuliffe was a dedicated teacher who understood how history is defined by ordinary people doing extraordinary things. She dared to touch the future as a teacher and an astronaut and left an indelible mark on our history.”
“Christa McAuliffe was a remarkable person and teacher who inspired her students to shoot for the stars and have a passion for science and exploration,” said U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster, D-NH, in a statement. “This coin is a wonderful way to honor her memory and keep her pioneering spirit alive for generations to come. I was honored to introduce this legislation and am thrilled that it has become law.”
The coins will be sold to the public at a price to be determined, but at a value high enough to cover their face value, a $10 surcharge per coin to benefit the FIRST Robotics program and the cost of their production such that no taxpayer funds are used.
The coins will be minted from 90% silver and 10% copper, officials have said.
Chosen as the first participant in NASA’s Teacher in Space program, McAuliffe launched as a member of the STS-51L crew aboard the Challenger on Jan. 28, 1986. The astronauts were lost when the space shuttle broke apart 73 seconds into the flight, the result of a faulty booster seal.
Three years later, Kamen founded FIRST to involve kids in kindergarten through high school in research and robotics programs.
More than one million children from the U.S. and 86 other countries now participate in a FIRST program each year, making it the leading nonprofit STEM engagement program for young people worldwide.