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Challenger Crew: Sharon McAuilffe

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Posted at 12:26 PM, Jan 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-04 12:11:36-04

January 28th, 2016 marks the 30 year anniversary since the Challenger explosion. Watch WTXL ABC 27 every night at 6pm as we profile a crew member of the Space Shuttle Challenger. Tune in on January 28th for a special coverage of Lessons Learned from Challenger.

TALLAHASSEE, FL (WTXL) -- Sharon Christa McAuliffe was selected by NASA to become the first teacher in space.

The Boston native trained with the Challenger crew for a year to get ready for the mission.

In 1985, then Vice President George H.W. Bush made a huge announcement: “The teacher who will be going to space...Christa McAuliffe."

Teacher, wife and mother Christa McAuliffe made history when she was the final member named to the Challenger team.

The 37-year-old beat out 11,000 other applicants in NASA'S Teacher in Space Project.

The idea was sending an educator into orbit a way to inspire students and get them excited about math, science and space exploration.

Even from a young age, McAuliffe had her eyes on the sky. In her NASA application, she talked about the Apollo missions, writing: “I watched the space age being born, and I would like to participate.”

And Challenger was her chance.

McAuliffe left the classroom for a year to get ready for the flight.

But it wasn’t just about physical preparation – she had a lesson plan, here too. McAuliffe’s mission was to conduct experiments and to teach classes live from space.

“I don't think any teacher has ever been more ready to give two lessons," she said in the days leading up to the launch.

WXTL ABC27 and the Challenger Learning Center honor Christa McAulife and will forever remember her contribution to the exploration of space.