Status: Deceased; Active 1985-1986. Born: 1948-09-02. Died: 1986-01-28. Spaceflights: 1 . Total time in space: 0.0008 days. Birth Place: Boston, Massachusetts.
Educated Framingham State; Bowie State.
Official NASA Biography as of June 2016:S. CHRISTA CORRIGAN MCAULIFFE
TEACHER IN SPACE PARTICIPANT (DECEASED)
PERSONAL DATA: Born September 2, 1948 in Boston, Massachusetts. She is survived by husband Steven and two children. Her listed recreational interests included jogging, tennis, and volleyball.
EDUCATION: Graduated from Marian High School, Framingham, Massachusetts, in 1966; received a bachelor of arts degree, Framingham State College, 1970; and a masters degree in education, Bowie State College, Bowie, Maryland, 1978.
ORGANIZATIONS: Board member, New Hampshire Council of Social Studies; National Council of Social Studies; Concord Teachers Association; New Hampshire Education Association; and the National Education Association.
AWARDS: Posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.
OUTSIDE ACTIVITIES: Member, Junior Service League; teacher, Christian Doctrine Classes, St. Peters Church; host family, A Better Chance Program (ABC), for inner-city students; and fundraiser for Concord Hospital and Concord YMCA.
NASA EXPERIENCE: Christa McAuliffe was selected as the primary candidate for the NASA Teacher in Space Project on July 19, 1985. She was a payload specialist on STS 51-L which was launched from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, at 11:38:00 EST on January 28, 1986. The crew on board the Orbiter Challenger included the spacecraft commander, Mr. F.R. Scobee, the pilot, Commander M.J. Smith (USN), three mission specialists, Dr. R.E. McNair, Lieutenant Colonel E.S. Onizuka (USAF), and Dr. J.A. Resnik, and fellow civilian payload specialist, Mr. G.B. Jarvis. The STS 51-L crew died on January 28, 1986 when Challenger exploded after launch.
Official NASA Biography:
Sharon Christa McAuliffe, the first teacher to fly in space. Selected from among more than 11,000 applicants from the education profession for entrance into the astronaut ranks, McAuliffe had been born on September 2, 1948, the oldest child of Edward and Grace Corrigan. Her father was at that time completing his sophomore year at Boston College, but not long thereafter he took a job as an assistant comptroller in a Boston department store and the family moved to the Boston suburb of Framingham. As a youth she registered excitement over the Apollo moon landing program, and wrote years later on her astronaut application form that "I watched the Space Age being born and I would like to participate."
McAuliffe attended Framingham State College in her hometown, graduating in 1970. A few weeks later she married her longstanding boyfriend, Steven McAuliffe, and they moved to the Washington, DC, metropolitan area so Steven could attend Georgetown Law School. She took a job teaching in the secondary schools, specializing in American history and social studies. They stayed in the Washington area for the next eight years, she teaching and completing an M.A. from Bowie State University, in Maryland. They moved to Concord, New Hampshire, in 1978 when Steven accepted a job as an assistant to the state attorney general. Christa took a teaching post at Concord High School in 1982, and in 1984 learned about NASA's efforts to locate an educator to fly on the Shuttle. The intent was to find a gifted teacher who could communicate with students from space.
NASA selected McAuliffe for this position in the summer of 1984 and in the fall she took a year-long leave of absence from teaching, during which time NASA would pay her salary, and trained for an early 1986 Shuttle mission. She had an immediate rapport with the media, and the teacher in space program received tremendous popular attention as a result. It is in part because of the excitement over McAuliffe's presence on the Challenger that the accident had such a significant impact on the nation.