Explorers Heroes

Christa McAuliffe

by Sydney from San Diego


            Imagine sitting at the Kennedy space station, waiting for the shuttle to take off. You see the clock start to count down from 10. Holding your breath in excitement and then the clock reaches 0, smoke starts to rise up and fill the sky. As the shuttle travels up into the sky, something goes wrong. A huge explosion causes a failure in the mission. In 1986 the Challenger exploded 74 seconds into flight, on board was Christa McAuliffe along with six other astronauts (Loveday). They all died on that melancholy day. Christa McAuliffe is very heroic because she tried something new, she was a hard worker, and she encouraged others to "Reach for the stars" to accomplish their dreams.

             Sharon Christa McAuliffe, oldest of five siblings, was born on September 2, 1948 in Framingham, Massachusetts. Her parents are Edward and Grace Corrigan. Throughout her life she went to school, and she attended college at Framingham State College she began to earn a bachelor's degree in history. In 1970, the year she graduated from college, she married her high school sweet heart, Steve McAuliffe. They later had a son Scott and a daughter Caroline (Kevles).

            McAuliffe accepted a job at Benjamin Foulois Junior High School. She taught American History to eighth graders. After Christa earned her Master's degree in educational administration from Bowie State College the McAuliffe's moved to New Hampshire in 1978.  Then after the move she found a new job at Concord High School

Challenger crew (
Challenger crew (

By the mid 1980's NASA was ready to train another type of astronaut, for a new kind of mission. This "new" astronaut would not be a pilot or a scientist, NASA needed someone with the ability to talk to young people about space and the future (Buchanan). The Teacher in Space Program allowed teachers all over the country to apply for this once in a lifetime experience. Christa applied. She was intelligent, creative, physically fit, needed to share ideas with children and also willing to endure long hours of astronaut training. Christa fit all of the criteria. On July 19th 1985 Vice-President George Bush announced that Christa McAuliffe had been the selected civilian to travel into space (Loveday). Christa took a year off to train for this early 1986 shuttle mission (Launius). After 120 days of training, she had learned to read flight data, operate certain cockpit controls. Christa learned the procedures for entering and exiting the space shuttle and learned to operate the on board cameras. Christa also flew on a KC-135 training jet that simulated weightlessness (Christa). On January 28th at 11:38 AM the space shuttle lifted off the ground.  During the previous night the fuel lines had froze and one thing led to another. The fuel tanks exploded 74 seconds into flight. Helpless and horrified, onlookers watched the shuttle, carrying 7 astronauts, fizzle like a flare falling into the sea (Christa). Today Christa McAuliffe is buried in a Catholic cemetery in New Hampshire. 


Christa McAuliffe tried something new, and that is one of the reasons why she is heroic. When she first heard of the Teacher in Space Program, she knew that she could do it. When she applied with all of the others, she didn't think that she would make it. She told her husband, "I cannot join the space program and restart my life as an astronaut, but this opportunity to connect my abilities as an educator with my interests in history and space is a unique opportunity to fulfill my early fantasies. I watched the space program being born, and I would like to participate" (Challenger). To me, trying something new like this takes much courage, and Christa was not afraid at all. This explains in exact detail why she is a hero. Not many people could say something like this, try something new, and let alone fulfill it.

 Christa was a genuine hard worker. She went through numerous years of school to succeed in her teaching career. She also went through 120 days of training and 300 hours of astronaut practice such as simulating the loss of gravity (Christa). This is the second reason why she is heroic; she worked extremely hard to make her dreams come true. I know that I probably wouldn't want my life to be put in danger, but McAuliffe was okay with that. She wanted to teach from space, she wanted to succeed. All of her training made her temporarily stop what she loved, which was teaching. Christa owned a t-shirt that said "I touch the future, I teach" (Christa). She loved teaching, and it was difficult for her to stop teaching for a year to accomplish this new dream of hers. Stopping what I love is very difficult for me and I can't imagine what I would do if I had stop my sports for a year. Only a strong person physically and mentally could do this and that is what Christa did.

Not only was Christa a hard worker and one to try new activities, but she also inspired others to do their best, and this is the third reason why she was heroic. Christa McAuliffe said "Well reach for it. You know, go for it. Push yourself as far as you can, because if I can get this far, you can do it too. Reach for the stars I'll be there" (Beckman). For her to say this to all of her peers, it is really meaningful. And now we have the inspiration to go for our dreams. She pushed herself to succeed and she did it. Christa wanted her students and those around her to do well in their lives. "As teachers we prepare the students for the future." Christa promised to share her adventure with her students through a journal (Christa). She wanted her students to do the best that they could, and she wanted to show them that it is possible to achieve your dreams by teaching from space. With what Christa did in her life she did show that it was possible to achieve your dreams. Because she inspired many, Christa holds a place in many people's hearts for what she did.

Looking up in the night sky, at all of the stars, I know that Christa is up there waiting up there for all of us to reach for the stars and achieve our goals. Christa McAuliffe was a special person. With hard work and many years of school she became a teacher and then later got the opportunity to teach from space. After a huge tragedy, she is a now a hero in my eyes. She was a hard worker, she tried something new, and she inspired others to do their best. With all of these qualities, to me Christa McAuliffe is a hero.

Works Consulted

Beckman, Tim.Christa McAuliffe School Song. 1993.

Buchanan, Doug. "Chapter 4: CHRISTA Mcauliffe." Air & Space (1999): 38. Biography Reference Center. Web. 10 May 2012.

"Challenger Center: The Challenger Story: Teacher in Space." Challenger Center: The

Challenger Story: Teacher in Space. Challenger Center. Web. 16 May 2012. .

"Christa McAuliffe." Encyclopedia of World Biography. 2nd ed. Vol. 20. Detroit: Gale, 2004. 254-257. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 8 May 2012.

Kevles, Bettyann Holtzmann. "Mcauliffe, Christa." Notable American Women, A Biographical

Dictionary: Completing The Twentieth Century (Vol.5) (2004): 425. Biography Reference Center. Web. 8 May 2012.

Launius, Roger D. "Challenger Shuttle Crew - Gregory B. Jarvis, Christa Mcauliffe,

Ronald E. Mcnair, Ellison S. Onizuka, Judith A. Resnik, Francis Richard Scobee, And Michael J. Smith." American National Biography (2010):1. Biography Reference Center. Web. 8 May 2012.

Loveday, Veronica. "Christa Mcauliffe." Christa Mcauliffe (2005): 1. Biography Reference

Center. Web. 8 May 2012.

Woodfill, Jerry. "Astronaut Bio: S. Christa C. McAuliffe." Astronaut Bio: S. Christa C.

McAuliffe. Web. 10 May 2012. .

Page created on 5/25/2012 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 5/25/2012 12:00:00 AM

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