On Jan. 28, 1986, the U.S. space shuttle Challenger exploded just 73 seconds after lift-off from Cape Canaveral, Florida. All seven crew on board were killed. Among the dead were Christa McAuliffe, a high school teacher who was the first-ever American civilian selected to go into space as part of the Teacher in Space Project.
She beat out more than 11,000 applicants for the opportunity and gained national recognition leading up to the launch. She had planned to teach lessons to her students from space and underwent extensive training to be a part of the mission. At the time of her death, millions of people in America were watching the shuttle launch on live TV, including her students and family.
Now, Michelle Williams is set to portray McAuliffe in a feature film about the tragedy called “The Challenger.”
“We are more than humbled and extremely grateful for the opportunity to help tell the story of Christa McAuliffe and the Challenger mission,” Ben Renzo of Argent Pictures, which is producing the film, said in a statement. “Christa McAuliffe’s legacy deserves the strength, courage, experience and humanity that Michelle Williams brings to the role. The entire Argent team is honored and eager to responsibly capture and share the events and personal journeys of those surrounding this important historical moment with audiences around the world to help remember and further appreciate the sacrifices Christa and rest of the Challenger crew made to further our journey into space.”
Following her death, McAuliffe and other Challenger crew members were posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor in 2004. Several schools have been named in her honor, as well as the Christa Corrigan McAuliffe Center For Integrated Science Learning at Framingham State College. A planetarium in New Hampshire, as well as an asteroid, a crater on Venus and a crater on the moon have also been named after her.
As Variety reported, Williams has been nominated for Academy Awards for her roles in “Brokeback Mountain,” “Blue Valentine,” “My Week With Marilyn” and “Manchester by the Sea.” We can’t wait to see what she brings to the portrayal of this brave historical figure.