Sharon Christa McAuliffe was an American teacher and astronaut from Concord, New Hampshire, who died during the destruction of Space Shuttle Challenger on mission STS-51-L where she was serving as a payload specialist.
She received her bachelor's degree in education and history from Framingham State College in 1970 and her master's degree in education, supervision and administration from Bowie State University in 1978. She took a teaching position as a social studies teacher at Concord High School in New Hampshire in 1983.
In 1985, McAuliffe was selected from more than 11,000 applicants to participate in the NASA Teacher in Space Project and was scheduled to become the first teacher in space. As a member of mission STS-51-L, she was planning to conduct experiments and teach two lessons from Space Shuttle Challenger. On January 28, 1986, the shuttle broke apart 1 minute 13 seconds after launch, killing everyone on board. After her death, schools and scholarships were named in her honor, and she was posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor in 2004.