August 16, 1985

Schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe Writes About Her Excitement Going into Space on the Ill-Fated Challenger

Autograph Letter Signed
1 page
SMC 1508
Slated to be the first private citizen in space flight, New Hampshire schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe was selected - from 11,000 applicants - in July, 1985, to begin training in September for her January 1986 flight aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger. Writing here in her role as the inaugural member of the Teacher in Space Project, McAuliffe says she is delighted that so many people are excited about her new venture and is looking forward to her training in Houston. “I… hope that you are able to tune in to my lessons,” she concludes, “which will be broadcast live during the shuttle flight.”

Those lessons, of course, never took place: with much of the nation watching - in large part due to the presence of the ebullient McAuliffe - the Challenger broke apart 73 seconds into its flight. Speaking from the Oval Office later that night, President Reagan spoke to the grieving nation. “We will never forget them,” he said, “nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and 'slipped the surly bonds of Earth' to 'touch the face of God.'”
Autograph Letter Signed (“S. Christa McAuliffe”), 1 page, quarto, on the lettergead of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in Washington but sent from Concord, New Hampshire, August 16, no year [1985]. To Dom J. Pucciarelli in Flushing, New York. With autograph envelope.
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