The U.S. space agency honored the first teacher in space who met a tragic end aboard the Challenger Space Shuttle on the 32nd anniversary of the event during NASA Remembrance Day.
Christa McAuliffe was the first educator who was sent to space to impart lessons in a zero-gravity environment. She was trained for spaceflight and was planning her lessons and practicing the broadcast of the lessons before the fatal launch.
During the liftoff, the structures of the Challenger did not function properly and within 73 seconds into the launch, an explosion took place at an altitude of 46,000 feet.
NASA Honors Christa McAuliffe
Two present-day teachers-turned-astronauts are planning to pay tribute to McAuliffe by conducting a few of her lessons aboard the International Space Station over the next few months. The deceased astronaut had planned to conduct experiments with fluids to demonstrate the laws of motion by Newton for school children.
McAuliffe was teaching Economics, Law, and History subjects at the New Hampshire's Concord High School when she was chosen as the main candidate for the U.S. space agency's Teacher In Space Project in 1985.
Now, astronauts Ricky Arnold and Joe Acaba will film four lessons on Newton's laws, liquids, chromatography, and bubbles or effervescence. They will be posted online by non-profit organization Challenger Center that supports education in math, engineering, technology, and science.
“Filming Christa McAuliffe’s lessons in orbit this year is an incredible way to honor and remember her and the Challenger crew,” said Mike Kincaid, associate administrator for NASA’s Office of Education. “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.”
The Space Shuttle Challenger Mishap
The Space Shuttle Challenger was launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Jan. 28 1986. A rubber O-ring seal in one of the shuttle's solid rocket boosters failed during liftoff. The failure caused hot gases to leak through the joint.
Subsequently, flames burst throughout the support that attached the booster to a fuel tank outside. The booster collided with the tank, leading to hydrogen and oxygen ignition, which tore the shuttle apart within 73 seconds into flight. The crew compartment crashed into the ocean, and all seven crew members were killed.