Senate passes legislation seeking a 2021 Christa McAuliffe silver dollar
- Published: Jul 11, 2019, 9 AM
Congress has taken the first big step toward honoring Christa McAuliffe, the schoolteacher who, along with six other crewmembers was killed when a fuel tank on the space shuttle Challenger exploded during its January 1986 liftoff, with a commemorative silver dollar sought for 2021.
S. 239, the Christa McAuliffe Commemorative Coin Act of 2019, was passed by voice vote of the full Senate on July 9.
The measure seeks a maximum mintage of 350,000 silver dollars honoring McAuliffe, who would have become the first teacher in space had the mission been successful.
The Teacher in Space Project was announced in 1984 and quickly garnered 11,000 applicants. After a prolonged period of review, New Hampshire teacher Sharon Christa McAuliffe was named the winner in 1985. She underwent months of training with other astronauts and was approved for a flight aboard the shuttle Challenger. The shuttle was launched Jan. 28, 1986, an abnormally cold morning, which proved disastrous. A leak in a seal in a solid-fuel rocket set off a fire that ignited the fuel in the spacecraft’s fuel tank, causing an explosion that destroyed the spacecraft and killed all seven crewmembers.
A surcharge of $10 will be added to the price of each silver dollar, to be “paid by the Secretary to the FIRST robotics program for the purpose of engaging and inspiring young people, through mentor-based programs, to become leaders in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.”
According to the legislation, “The mission of FIRST ‘is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering, and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.’ ”
The bill next goes to the House of Representatives for consideration there. A House version of the bill currently has 305 co-sponsors, which pushes the total past the required 290 co-sponsors required for a vote in the House, making passage fairly certain.
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