- NAME: Christa McAuliffe
- OCCUPATION: Educator
- BIRTH DATE: September 02, 1948
- DEATH DATE: January 28, 1986
- EDUCATION: Framingham State College, Bowie State College
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Framingham, Massachusetts
- PLACE OF DEATH: Orlando, Florida
- Originally: Sharon Christa Corrigan
- AKA: Sharon Corrigan
- AKA: Christa McAuliffe
- AKA: S. Christa Corrigan
Best Known For
High school teacher Christa McAuliffe was the first American civilian selected to go into space. She died in the space shuttle Challenger’s explosion in 1986.
Think you know about Biography?
Answer questions and see how you rank against other players.Play Now
Christa McAuliffe was born in Massachusetts on September 2, 1948. A high school teacher, she became the first American civilian selected to go into space in 1985. After being selected by NASA in 1985, she trained at the Johnson Space Center. On January 28, 1986, McAuliffe boarded the Challenger space shuttle in Orlando, Florida. The shuttle exploded shortly after lift-off, killing everyone on board.
Born Sharon Christa Corrigan on September 2, 1948, in Framingham, Massachusetts, Christa McAuliffe made history in 1985, when she became the first civilian to go on a U.S. space mission. McAuliffe graduated from Marian High School in Framingham, Massachusetts, in 1966, and continued her studies at Framingham State College. There, she received a bachelor's degree in 1970, and married Steven McAuliffe soon after.
Around this time, McAuliffe began her career as an educator, teaching American history and English to junior high school students in Maryland. She earned a master's degree in education from Bowie State College in 1978. A short while after earning her degree, McAuliffe and her family moved to New Hampshire. There, she landed a teaching job at a high school in Concord.
McAuliffe was an extraordinary teacher with a dream of riding on the space shuttle. So when the National Aeronautics and Space Administration announced a contest to take a teacher into space, McAuliffe jumped at the chance and applied. She won the contest, beating out more than 11,000 other applicants. Vice President George H.W. Bush delivered the good news at a special ceremony at the White House: He said that McAuliffe was going to be the "first private citizen passenger in the history of space flight," according to a report in The New York Times.
After NASA announced that they had chosen McAuliffe to go into space, her whole community rallied behind her. McAuliffe saw the space mission as a chance to go on the ultimate field trip. She believed that by participating in the mission she could help students better understand space and how NASA works. She went to the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, for training in September 1985.
On January 28, 1986, McAuliffe's friends and family, including her two young children, anxiously watched and waited for the Challenger space shuttle to take off from the Kennedy Space Center in Orlando, Florida. Shortly after lift-off, the shuttle exploded. Everyone aboard died, including McAuliffe.
A shocked nation mourned the passing of the seven crew members of the Challenger. President Ronald Reagan spoke of the crew as heroes shortly after the accident. "This America, which Abraham Lincoln called the last, best hope of man on Earth, was built on heroism and noble sacrifice. It was built by men and women like our seven star voyagers, who answered a call beyond duty, who gave more than was expected or required and who gave it little thought of worldly reward," Reagan stated. NASA spent months analyzing the incident, later determining that problems with the right solid rocket motor had been the primary cause of the disaster.
profile name: Christa McAuliffe profile occupation:
Sign in with Facebook to see how you and your friends are connected to famous icons.
Your Friends' Connections
Included In These Groups
Despite all sorts of institutional obstacles, women have continued to reach stratospheric levels of success in a full gamut of professional pursuits, whether as scientists, scribes, educators, governmental leaders, athletes, designers, film directors or performers. Learn more about the plethora of triumphs obtained by our group of trailblazers.
Visit Biography.com's Women's History group to explore more biographies, photos and videos of some the world's most fascinating women.
Groundbreaking Women 71 people in this group
Famous Academics 422 people in this group
Famous Teachers 208 people in this group