Silver dollars honoring Christa McAuliffe, the first teacher chosen to go into space, will be struck and sold by the United States Mint in 2021. McAuliffe was among the seven crew members killed in the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion on Jan. 28, 1986.
The commemorative coins will be produced in collector qualities of proof and uncirculated with no more than 350,000 made. Their obverse (heads side) will feature McAuliffe and their reverse (tails side) will portray her legacy as a teacher.
Both designs will be selected by the Treasury Secretary after consulting with the family of Christa McAuliffe, the Commission of Fine Arts, the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee, and the not-for-profit organization called FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology). FIRST was founded in 1989 to inspire youth interest and participation in science and technology.
The coins’ authorizing legislation, S. 239, or the Christa McAuliffe Commemorative Coin Act of 2019, was introduced in the Senate Jan. 28 by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). It enjoyed strong bipartisan support, passing the Senate on July 9, passing the House on Sept. 19, and signed it into law (Public Law No: 116-65) by President Trump on Oct. 9.
"I’m heartened by the bipartisan support that ushered this bill through Congress, which will create a truly fitting tribute in Christa McAuliffe’s memory," Senator Shaheen said. "Forging a coin in her likeness with proceeds bolstering STEM education not only ensures generations of Granite Staters and Americans know her story, but it continues her mission to get kids involved in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math."
The Act calls for an added surcharge of $10 to the price of each silver dollar with proceeds, provided the coins turn a profit, paid 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.”
Current law provides for two U.S. Mint commemorative coin programs each year. Another program for the year has yet to be authorized.