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Christa McAuliffe

Christa McAuliffe - Citizen Spaceflight Astronaut

Post Series: Space Tourists

The first civilian to join a Shuttle flight was Christa McAuliffe, a school teacher from Concord, New Hampshire, who carried the title of Mission Specialist for the flight. However, the mission, STS-51-L, ended in disaster when the Shuttle Challenger exploded on January 28th, 1986 shortly after lift-off, killing all aboard.

As a direct consequence of the disaster, NASA cancelled the Space Flight Participant program in 1990, and replaced it with a similar initiative, the Educator Astronaut Project, which required all participants to undergo rigorous training as dedicated Mission Specialists.

The first civilian to benefit under the revised program was Barbara Morgan, McAuliffe’s substitute for the Challenger mission, and who flew on the shuttle Endeavour, on August 8th, 2007.