Christa McAuliffe Coin To Mark 35 Years Since Challenger Disaster

FRAMINGHAM, MA — The U.S. Mint will produce a coin honoring Framingham native Christa McAuliffe, who died in the 1986 Challenger shuttle disaster. The coin will be available on the 35th anniversary of the tragedy in 2021.

The Christa McAuliffe Commemorative Coin Act of 2019 was first introduced in January by Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., and was introduced in the Senate in July U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, R-NH. The U.S. House passed the bill Sept. 19.

The coin, which will be available for $1 beginning in January 2021, features a portrait of McAuliffe on one side. The flip side shows McAuliffe teaching students. After graduating from Marian High School and Framingham State, McAuliffe went on to become a revered social studies teacher at Concord High School in New Hampshire.

McAuliffe was selected from a pool of thousands of applicants for NASA’s Teacher in Space Project. She and seven crew members boarded the Space Shuttle Challenger on Jan. 28, 1986, on a planned six-day mission to observe Halley’s Comet. The shuttle exploded 73 seconds after liftoff from the John F. Kennedy Space Center in Florida. She was a long-time teacher in the Concord School District, teaching social studies, women’s history and economics, and also was a advisor to student groups like the World Affairs Club.

A $10 surcharge from the sale of each McAuliffe coin will go to the FIRST Robotics Competition, according to legislation. The FIRST competition allows teams of high school students to build robots that compete in sports-like games.

The U.S. Mint will make 350,000 McAuliffe coins. The Christa McAuliffe Commemorative Coin Act of 2019 still needs President Donald Trump’s signature before it can officially become law.