A permanent memorial to Christa McAuliffe, the New Hampshire high school teacher who died in the space shuttle Challenger disaster 37 years ago, will be built on the Statehouse grounds, according to an executive order from Gov. Chris Sununu.
McAuliffe would have been NASA’s first designated teacher in space. She and six crewmates were killed when the Challenger broke apart shortly after takeoff on Jan. 28, 1986. She was 37.
Sununu has asked for $500,000 in the state budget for the memorial. His order creates a commission to study, design and oversee its construction. The memorial would be unveiled by Sept. 2, 2024, on what would have been her 76th birthday.
McAuliffe taught at Concord High School and is buried in a local cemetery. The city named a planetarium for her, later changing it to the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center to recognize native son Alan Shepard, the first American in space. It also named an elementary school for her.
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There are other tributes elsewhere to McAuliffe and to the Challenger crew, including a memorial in Arlington National Cemetery. A commemorative coin honoring McAuliffe also was created.