Sharon Christa Corrigan McAuliffe was a Social Studies teacher at Concord High School in New Hampshire, when she received a fateful invitation 25 years ago on this very day. McAuliffe had applied to participate in the Teacher in Space project, and on July 19, 1985, she received word that she had been chosen. Out of over 11,000 applicants, and 114 semi-finalists, Christa would go into orbit on the Space Shuttle. As the first civilian in space, she would talk with students across America while on the mission.
President George H.W. Bush announced the selection and named Barbara Morgan, an elementary school teacher at McCall-Donnelly Elementary School in McCall, Idaho, as Christa’s back-up.
Sadly, McAuliffe died when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded upon lift off on January 28, 1986. But Morgan went on to have a more successful NASA career. In 1998, she became a full-time astronaut when she was chosen to become a Mission Specialist. Then in 2003, she was selected as a member of the crew on the STS-118 mission which flew the Space Shuttle Endeavour to the International Space Station. The Endeavor launched from Kennedy Space Center on August 8, 2007.
Morgan has since retired from NASA and teaches in the engineering and education colleges at Boise State in Idaho.
The final Space Shuttle flight will launch early next year. For regular updates check out NASA’s official site.