WASHINGTON — A local teacher killed in the 1986 Challenger disaster will be remembered for her heroism and contributions to STEM through a limited coin release.
Christa McAuliffe of Concord, New Hampshire, was one of seven crew members aboard the Space Shuttle's tenth flight when it broke apart over the Atlantic Ocean just 73 seconds after blasting off from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Astronauts Dick Scobee, Judith Resnik, Ronald McNair, Mike Smith and Ellison Onizukam, and engineer Gregory Jarvis, were also lost in the tragic disaster.
President Donald Trump signed into law on Wednesday the "Christa McAuliffe Commemorative Coin Act of 2019," which requires the Treasury Department to mint and issue not more than 350,000 silver dollar coins in honor of McAuliffe.
New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen introduced the Senate's version of the bill, S.239, on Jan. 28, and it was co-sponsored by fellow Granite Stater Sen. Maggie Hassan, as well as by Maine Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King.
Michigan Rep. Fred Upton introduced the House version, H.R.500, on Jan. 11. That legislation was co-sponsored by both New Hampshire Reps. Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas, and Maine Reps. Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden.
The $1 coin, to be issued at some point in 2021, will bear McAuliffe's name and an image of her, with a design on the back that depicts her legacy as a teacher.
All proceeds will go to FIRST, or For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, an international youth not-for-profit public charity organization headquartered in Manchester, New Hampshire, "for the purpose of engaging and inspiring young people, through mentor-based programs, to become leaders in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics."
"I’m heartened by the bipartisan support that ushered this bill through Congress, which will create a truly fitting tribute in Christa McAuliffe’s memory," Sen. Shaheen said in a statement released Wednesday. "Forging a coin in her likeness with proceeds bolstering STEM education not only ensures generations of Granite Staters and Americans know her story, but it continues her mission to get kids involved in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math."
NEWS CENTER Maine's Pat Callaghan was in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on assignment when the Challenger disaster occurred, and witnessed the events unfold live during a NewsCenter Special Report titled "Teacher in Space."