On this day in 1986, Christa McAuliffe, a social studies teacher from Concord, New Hampshire, was set to become the first civilian educator to go to space.
McAuliffe was chosen from over 11,000 applicants for the Teacher in Space Project. She had a lifelong passion for space, and believed in the importance of ordinary people in space exploration. After joining the project in 1985, she trained for a year for the role of payload specialist. She was going to conduct experiments and teach two lessons from space. Sadly, McAuliffe and the other six astronauts on board perished just 73 seconds into their flight when the Challenger space shuttle exploded.
Educational awards, scholarships, and science centers across the country have been named in her memory. To honor Christa McAuliffe, we’ve selected three books with sapphic main characters who are astronauts or space explorers.