Teacher Christa McAuliffe Of The Challenger Disaster Will Finally Have Her Science Lessons Taught In Space

Flickr / NASA Johnson

Thirty-two years following the Challenger disaster, NASA has a fitting tribute planned to honor Christa McAuliffe, a social studies teacher from New Hampshire who joined the mission and had planned to teach lessons from space. She never got the opportunity, because on the morning of Jan. 28, 1986, she and the six astronauts on board died when the spacecraft exploded 73 seconds after lift-off.

Flickr / NASA

According to History.com, the spaceship exploded after a piece separating the rocket boosters malfunctioned due to cold temperatures that morning. The following CNN clip captured the launch and the explosion live, which was watched by people around the world:

Teachers in Space

McAuliffe was the first American civilian selected to go into space as part of the Teacher In Space Mission. She planned to film and teach six lessons in total while in orbit. After more than three decades, two astronauts will finally complete her mission.

“Filming Christa McAuliffe’s lessons in orbit this year is an incredible way to honor and remember her and the Challenger crew,” Mike Kincaid, Associate Administrator for NASA’s Office of Education, said in a statement.

Later this year aboard the International Space Station, astronauts Joe Acaba and Ricky Arnold will teach the lessons McAuliffe prepared. Fittingly for this meaningful mission, both Acaba and Arnold were teachers before they became astronauts.

“Developed with such care and expertise by Christa, the value these lessons will have as new tools available for educators to engage and inspire students in science, technology, education and math is what will continue to advance a true legacy of Challenger’s mission,” Kincaid added.

The astronauts will teach and film four of McAuliffe’s planned demonstrations while on board the International Space Station. They will follow her lesson plans covering effervescence, chromatography, liquids in zero-g and Newton’s laws, according to ABC News.


Beginning this spring, the Challenger Center will post the educational videos online. The not-for-profit organization supports science, technology, engineering and math education (STEM) and aims to continue Challenger’s mission. Children and teachers around the world will have access to the ”STEMonstrations” on YouTube.

Will you watch the lessons from the Teacher In Space Mission when they are posted online?

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Jennifer Nied
Jennifer Nied is a freelance writer and editor based in New York City. She focuses on beauty, wellness, and travel stories with a background covering the spa industry.

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