Framingham State Honors the Legacy of Christa McAuliffe and the Challenger Crew

Framingham State Honors the Legacy of Christa McAuliffe and the Challenger Crew

Feb 3, 2016

Hundreds of people gathered in the Dwight Performing Arts Center on the 30th Anniversary of the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster on January 28th to celebrate the legacy of the crew, including beloved Framingham State alumna Christa Corrigan McAuliffe ’70.

“It’s important to have days like today,” said NASA Astronaut Catherine “Cady” Coleman, one of the keynote speakers. “It’s important that we remember all the people we have lost during our steps along the path to explore the universe.”

McAuliffe captivated the entire nation after being chosen out of a pool of 11,000 applicants to be the first teacher in space. But disaster struck 73 seconds into the flight on Jan. 28, 1986, when an explosion killed all seven crew members on board the shuttle.

Out of tragedy came hope and determination from the families of the crew to carry their mission forward. They came together to launch the Challenger Learning Centers, of which there are now more than 40 around the globe, including the Christa McAuliffe Challenger Learning Center at Framingham State. Collectively, the centers have educated more than 4.4 million students.

“Christa’s legacy can be seen in the faces of hundreds of thousands of children who have visited the Challenger Center and flown simulated space flights,” said Mary Liscombe ’70, former director of the Christa Corrigan McAuliffe Center, as well as a classmate of Christa’s. “Her legacy lives in the minds and hearts of dreamers who dare to do something difficult and then set out to achieve it.”

Those dreamers include Coleman and fellow keynote speaker Tess Caswell, a former flight controller at Mission Control in Houston, who is currently pursuing her PhD at Brown University and one day plans to fly in space.

Coleman said she did not grow up imagining that she would be an astronaut. Her inspiration came while attending MIT when she got the chance to meet Dr. Sally Ride, the first American woman in space.

“I looked at her and said, ‘maybe I can do something like that,’” Coleman said.

Caswell’s dream of flying in space started at the Challenger Center of Alaska, so the legacy of the crew holds personal meaning for her.

The special anniversary celebration was organized by the team at the Framingham State Christa McAuliffe Center, which is led by Director Irene Porro.

“It’s a great honor for all of us to continue the educational mission of the 51L crew,” said Dr. Porro.

About Framingham State University

Framingham State University was founded in 1839 as the nation’s first public university for the education of teachers. Since that time, it has evolved into a vibrant, comprehensive liberal arts institution offering small, personalized classes on a beautiful New England campus. Today, the University enrolls more than 6,000 students with 58 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in the arts, humanities, sciences, social sciences and professional fields. As a State College and University (SCU), Framingham State prides itself on quality academic programs, affordability, and commitment to access for all qualified students.