Most people remember where they were when John F. Kennedy was assassinated, just as they remember how they felt when humans first set foot on the moon. Elements of both reactions are present in the story of Christa McAuliffe, the energetic young schoolteacher chosen to be the first civilian to go into space—and who died with her astronaut companions in the Challenger explosion of January 28, 1986.
In this straightforward memoir, McAuliffe's mother, Grace George Corrigan, makes it very clear just who and what the nation lost in the Challenger tragedy. The product of family history, notes and letters, and the commemorative efforts to honor her daughter, A Journal for Christa provides a very personal biography of a remarkable young woman.
Christa McAuliffe's story is solidly American—the eldest child of a close Catholic Massachusetts family, and a dedicated Girl Scout, she came of age in the turbulent sixties and early seventies and became a schoolteacher and mother. Generous, outgoing, funny, and beloved by her many friends and students, she was little known beyond her personal circle until selected by NASA to be the first civilian sent on a space mission as the "Teacher in Space." Whether or not the selection was a publicity stunt, Christa McAuliffe may have proved more than NASA bargained for. Honest, direct, and outspoken, she was impatient with the stultifying ceremonies of the government bureaucracy and did not hesitate to speak out on behalf of the constituency she felt she had been selected to represent: American public schoolteachers and the children in their classrooms.
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