Christa McAuliffe

(1948 – 1986)

Portrait of Christa McAuliffe by Jack Kamen

Jack Kamen Artwork

Christa McAuliffe made history as the first American civilian selected to go to space. McAuliffe was chosen for the NASA Teacher in Space Project, beating out more than 11,000 applicants. She was a high school teacher in Concord, New Hampshire.

Tragedy Strikes

McAuliffe joined the crew of NASA’s Challenger space shuttle for the January 28, 1986 launch. The shuttle tragically exploded shortly after liftoff, killing everyone on board. After her death, McAuliffe received the Congressional Space Medal of Honor. The lessons she had planned to deliver from space were delivered from the International Space Station in 2017 and 2018 in tribute to her. Her words “I touch the future, I teach” continue to motivate teachers around the world.

Explore Additional Portraits in the Collection

Leonardo Da Vinci
Thomas Edison

These portraits were commissioned by Dean Kamen for the SEE Science Center.  The artist is Jack Kamen (1920-2008), an American graphic artist and Dean’s father. The series was created to inspire children through the stories of scientists and engineers whose work changed the world.  While many of the pieces represent men, the duo worked hard to identify female scientists.  Had Jack not passed, their goal was to continue to increase representation within the collection.  The original artwork is on display at the SEE Science Center in the Jack Kamen Portrait Gallery.