The United States Mint is to memorialize Christa McAuliffe, the teacher and astronaut who died in the Challenger disaster in 1986, with a commemorative silver dollar coin.
The 37-year-old social studies teacher from Concord, New Hampshire, was chosen for NASA’s “Teacher in Space” program, and was one of the seven crew members aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger when it exploded. A faulty rocket booster caused the shuttle to break apart soon after it lifted off.
The Christa McAuliffe Commemorative Coin Act of 2019 was passed by Congress, and the bill will go to the President to be signed into law.
The act calls for the Department of Treasury to “issue not more than 350,000 $1 silver coins in commemoration of Christa McAuliffe.” If the President signs the act, the coins will be minted in 2021 to commemorate the 35th anniversary of the tragedy.
The coins will be sold to the public at a price that includes the face value of the coins, the cost of their design and issue, and a $10 surcharge per coin to benefit the an organization called For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. FIRST uses robotic competitions to encourage children to pursue opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
“As part of the FIRST Community, we are inspired to advocate for wider recognition of our nation’s STEM heroes,” said Dean Kamen, founder of FIRST.
“This commemorative coin will honor Christa McAuliffe’s legacy not just by celebrating her life and service, but by designating additional funds to a program with a proven track record of inspiring young people to pursue science and technology. I am extremely grateful to everyone who helped pass this legislation and am excited that FIRST students will benefit as a result.”