Teacher in Space


Teacher in Space

Christa McAuliffe and the Challenger Legacy


Colin Burgess
Foreword by Grace George Corrigan

152 pages
37 color photographs, 3 b&w photographs, 1 table, 3 appendixes, index


June 2020


$24.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

On January 28, 1986, NASA space shuttle orbiter Challenger lifted off into the clear blue skies over Florida on mission STS-51L, carrying a crew of seven, including teacher Christa McAuliffe. Just seventy-three seconds into the launch, a massive explosion tore Challenger apart. This newly revised edition of Teacher in Space tells the story of how McAuliffe graduated from her role as a much-loved high school teacher to occupying a seat on the veteran orbiter’s tenth and last flight into space.

McAuliffe’s dream was to carry out science projects while in orbit around the earth that were to be telecast live to school students across the United States. Her dream came to a sudden and tragic end that terrible day. Nevertheless, that ambition to educate from space remained an inspiration to many and, in her name and those of the Challenger crew, manifested itself in the establishment of hundreds of youth education programs and institutes of learning across America and around the world.

Teacher in Space is a remarkable story of renewed faith, cooperation, and hope for the future and of a dedicated and much-loved teacher who came to symbolize the best of human achievement.

Author Bio

Colin Burgess is the author or editor of several books on spaceflight, including Shattered Dreams: The Lost and Canceled Space Missions (Nebraska, 2019) and Fallen Astronauts: Heroes Who Died Reaching for the Moon, Revised Edition (Nebraska, 2016). Grace George Corrigan (1924–2018) was an education advocate and the mother of Christa McAuliffe. She is the author of A Journal for Christa: Christa McAuliffe, Teacher in Space (Nebraska, 2000).


"This biography honors the life of Christa McAuliffe by telling her story.  It is an insightful reflection on a time in the space program that brought great joy (that everyday people would be flying to space onboard the Shuttle) and ultimately great sadness."—Scott Sacknoff, Quest: The History of Spaceflight Quarterly

“While Colin Burgess revisits the terrible events of January 1986 in his masterful book, he also offers a deserving tribute to the Challenger crew and in particular a dedicated, loving teacher named Christa McAuliffe.”—Col. Alfred M. Worden, USAF (Ret.), command module pilot, Apollo 15

“This book offers an insightful reflection on not only that tragic day in 1986 but the inspiring way in which some truly remarkable people then embarked on a mission to help realize and honor Christa’s dream of touching the future through education.”—Col. Pamela Melroy, USAF (Ret.), NASA space shuttle pilot and commander

“Christa McAuliffe was a wonderful human being, a beloved teacher, our forever first NASA Teacher in Space, and the perfect representative of our teaching profession.  Thank you for honoring Christa by telling her story and sharing her inspiration with the world for generations to come.”—Barbara Morgan, McAuliffe’s Teacher in Space backup, NASA mission specialist, STS-118

“This book touchingly portrays the human story of a very ordinary individual embroiled in a national tragedy.”—Francis French, educator and author of Apollo Pilot: The Memoir of Astronaut Donn Eisele

Table of Contents

Foreword by Grace George Corrigan
1. Launch Day
2. No Ordinary Person
3. Touching the Future
4. The Ride of a Lifetime
5. Civilians in Space
6. Learning the Ropes
7. Delays and More Delays
8. “The Craft Has Exploded!”
9. The Dream Continues
10. Educating from Orbit
Epilogue: Christa McAuliffe’s Messenger
Appendix A: Shuttle Orbiter Challenger Facts and Figures
Appendix B: Numbering the Shuttle Flights
Appendix C: Honors for the Seven Challenger Astronauts

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