WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD) released the following statement in observance today of the birthday of Christa McAuliffe, the first participant in the NASA Teacher in Space program. Her inaugural flight was on the Challenger space shuttle on January 28, 1986. McAuliffe, along with six other crew members, died when the Challenger exploded after launch:
“Today I remember the life of a friend of mine, Christa McAuliffe. Christa’s lifelong dedication to teaching was inspiring to all who had the pleasure to know her, and a great blessing to the children whose lives she touched. In fact, she loved teaching so much that she wanted to share her experience of traveling through space with the whole nation. We eagerly anticipated hearing her voice across the miles of stars and sky. When Challenger exploded that morning, and the lives of the seven brave astronauts were lost, the entire country mourned.
“Christa would be 55 years old today. Even though she is no longer with us her legacy serves as an example of hope, ambition, and the power of a dream.
“As we continue to discuss the future of the space program in light of the recent Columbia tragedy, I feel that if she were here, Christa would tell us not to be discouraged or let our commitment to space exploration fade. She, after all, knew the power of accomplishing the extraordinary. We should honor her life and the lives of other space pioneers by remembering Christa’s words: ‘That's our new frontier out there, and it's everybody's business to know about space.’”