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Friday, September 2, 2016

Today We Remember Christa McAuliffe. Space News. The Imaginarium.

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Spencer Merryweather, an old Space Center member of staff, reminded me that today would have been Christa McAuliffe's 68th birthday. The following tribute was posted on "A Mighty Girl" Facebook page. Please take a moment to read and consider the life of a true American hero - the person I named the Space Center after.
Mr. W.

Today we remember teacher and Space Shuttle Challenger crew member Christa McAuliffe, who would have celebrated her 68th birthday on this day. McAuliffe was selected by NASA from more than 11,000 applicants to be part of the Teachers in Space program. Tragically, she and the Challenger's six other crew members were killed when it exploded during takeoff on January 28, 1986.
As a child, McAuliffe was inspired by space exploration; the day after astronaut John Glenn orbited the Earth, she told a friend at her high school, "Do you realize that someday people will be going to the Moon? Maybe even taking a bus, and I want to do that!" Ultimately, McAuliffe choose to pursue her passion for teaching and accepted a position at Concord High School in New Hampshire in 1982. According to the NY Times, as a history teacher, she "emphasized the impact of ordinary people on history, saying they were as important to the historical record as kings, politicians or generals."
In 1984, President Ronald Reagan announced the Teacher In Space project. NASA began seeking out a gifted teacher who could broadcast lessons from space with the goal of fostering public interest in space exploration. McAuliffe applied immediately, writing in her application, "I watched the Space Age being born, and I would like to participate." Her selection was announced on July 19, 1985, and she began training for time in space and making media appearances, where her enthusiasm and excitement captivated the nation.
Just 73 seconds into McAuliffe's long-awaited flight, at an altitude of 48,000 feet, the shuttle Challenger exploded; an event witnessed on TV by millions, including many school children. Though her life was cut tragically short, McAuliffe's legacy lives on today: there are schools, scholarships, grants, and even a moon crater named after her. But we at A Mighty Girl think she'd be happiest to know that students everywhere still dream of touching space; as she said during a media appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, "If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, don’t ask what seat. Just get on."
For an excellent documentary about McAuliffe, narrated by Susan Sarandon, check out "Reach for the Stars" for ages 9 and up at -- or stream it instantly on Amazon, visit
To inspire kids with stories starring girls who love science, check out our blog post, "Ignite Her Curiosity: 25 Books Starring Science-Loving Mighty Girls," at
To introduce young readers to more real-life space pioneers, we highly recommend “Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared To Dream” for ages 10 to 14 ( and “Women In Space: 23 Stories of First Flights, Scientific Missions, and Ground-Breaking Adventures” for ages 12 and up (
And, for our favorite children's books honoring teachers and the value they bring to kids' lives, check out our blog post, "Honoring Educators: 20 Books About Mighty Girls & Their Teachers," at
Space News

By Mark Daymoont

Astronaut Jeff WIlliams Breaks Space Endurance Record

Jeff Williams on the recent EVA to install the International Docking Adapter.

Expedition 48 Commander and NASA astronaut Jeff Williams broke the US record of being in space the longest, passing the recent record made by year-long ISS astronaut Scott Kelly, who had reached 520 days in space, cumulative, from his several missions and year-long stay on the ISS. On August 24, Williams passed that mark, and by the time he returns home on September 6, he will have 534 days to his record. Williams has been on 4 missions.

Williams displays patches from the missions he has been involved with through his career.

Williams first went into space on the Space Shuttle Atlantis in May 2000, on mission STS-101, a resupply mission to the new ISS, during which he performed his first EVA. In 2002, he also spent a week as a diver in the deep sea lab Aquarius. He returned to space in Expedition 13 in 2006 for a six month stay and performed two more EVAs. In September 2009, Williams returned for another 6-month stay on ISS and became commander of Expedition 22. He was the back-up astronaut for Scott Kelly on the 1-year mission, which comprised expeditions 43 through 46. He is on his 4th mission, serving first as flight engineer on Expedition 47, now as Commander of Expedition 48. He is scheduled to return home on Tuesday, September 6.

Dragon Returns to Earth

Dragon cargo capsule about to splash into the Pacific. Credit: SpaceX

SpaceX achieved another successful conclusion to a Dragon cargo ISS mission Friday, when their Dragon space capsule safely splashed into the waters of the Pacific Ocean west of Baja California. It was their 9th cargo resupply of the orbital station. Inside the capsule were returning samples form experiments in astronaut biology, crystal development, and other microgravity experiments that can only be performed on the space station.

Artist depiction of International Docking Adapter at end of docking node, about to receive a future docking from a manned capsule. Credit: NASA.

One of the main missions of this Dragon flight was the safe delivery of the International Docking Adapter to ISS. Mostly constructed by Boeing and RPG Energia, the adaptor will allow the safe and quick docking of the various national and commercial space capsule that are in devlopment or currently in use. On August 19, Expedition 48 commander Jeff Williams and flight engineer Kate Rubins performed an EVA to help move the adapter from the Dragon storage section to its new docking port location.

Kate Rubins works outside the ISS on an EVA to attach the new docking adapter.

 After a six-hour walk in space, the pair of astronauts finished their assembly tasks and returned to the station interior. The EVA was the 194th spacewalk working on assembly and ,aintenance of the ISS. The adapter they installed was the first of two such adapters, another one to be delivered on another flight. Starting with the first commercial crewed flight, possibly next year, and probably by SpaceX Dragon 2, Boeing and SpaceX capsules that are manned will use the new adapter ports.

The Imaginarium

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