On September 19, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Christa McAuliffe Commemorative Coin Act of 2019, which authorizes the Mint to produce silver $1 coins to honor astronaut and teacher Christa McAuliffe, who tragically lost her life along with her six crewmates in the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. McAuliffe was a social studies teacher at Concord High School in New Hampshire who received her bachelor’s degree in 1970 from Framingham State College and her master’s in education, supervision, and administration in 1978 from Bowie State University. She was selected from a pool of over 11,000 applicants for the NASA Teacher in Space Project to be the first teacher in space. Her plan was to conduct experiments and teach two lessons while aboard Space Shuttle Challenger. Unfortunately, on January 28, 1986, Challenger broke up 73 seconds after launch. In 2004, McAuliffe was posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.
The Christa McAuliffe Commemorative Coin Act of 2019 authorizes the Department of the Treasury to “issue not more than 350,000 $1 silver coins in commemoration of Christa McAuliffe.” The next step for the act is to await the signature of the President. After receiving the President’s signature, the coins will be minted in 2021 on the 35th anniversary of the Challenger disaster.
The initial proposal of the bill to create commemorative coins for the 30 year anniversary of the Challenger disaster was covered by Dan Holmes on Coin Update in May 2016.