Space

NASA to pay tribute to Challenger mission astronaut Christa McAuliffe by filming science lessons in space

Almost three decades ago, teacher-turned-astronaut Christa McAuliffe had thought of fulfilling her dream of teaching from space. But unfortunately, her dream got shattered as on January 28, 1986, NASA’s Space Shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after launching. There were seven crewmates including McAuliffe present inside the Challenger when the space shuttle turned into ashes during liftoff killing all of them.

Now, NASA is planning to pay tribute to the brave lady who wished to film lessons in space that could reach classrooms across the country. The two current teach-turned astronauts Joe Acaba and Ricky Arnold are planning to perform a handful of McAuliffe’s lessons aboard the International Space Station. Three decades ago, McAuliffe had planned to do experiment with fluids from space and demonstrate Newton’s laws of motion for school children from there, but she could not reach the orbit due to the unfortunate incidence that took her life.

But now, the two ISS astronauts are planning to take her wish a step further as they are going to teach and film four lessons from space- on bubbles or effervescence, chromatography, liquids and Newton’s laws. The lessons will then be posted online by the Challenger Center, a non-profit organization supporting science and technology, engineering and math education. Joe Acaba is currently present on ISS and will fly back to earth at the end of February. Ricky Arnold is scheduled to go to ISS in March. That is why NASA is calling the back to back missions as “A Year of Education on Station.” The two astronauts were picked by NASA as educator-astronauts in 2004. At that time Acaba was teaching middle school math and science in Florida and Arnold was teaching the same in Romania.

Recently, Arnold took to Tweeter and said that he Acaba and former educator astronauts Barbara Morgan and Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger were honored to help celebrate the legacy of Challenger, and the Teacher in Space Mission. In 2007, Barbara Morgan became the first educator astronaut to travel to space. Back in 1986, the social studies teacher Christa McAuliffe was actually thought of becoming the first educator as well as the first American Civilian to go to space, was selected above nearly 11,000 educators as the primary candidate for the first Teacher in Space Mission. On the day of Challenger mission a launch she said, imagine a history teacher making history.” But she had no idea about what could happen to her in the next few minutes. Unfortunately, the Challenger space shuttle exploded just 73 seconds after liftoff killing McAuliffe and her six crewmates.

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