The United States Mint recently unveiled designs for the commemorative 2021 Christa McAuliffe Silver Dollar. McAuliffe, the first participant in NASA’s Teach in Space Project (TISP), was one of the seven crew members killed in the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion on Jan. 28, 1986.
Authorized under Public Law 116-65, the U.S. Mint in 2021 will produce and sell up 350,000 Christa McAuliffe Silver Dollars in collector qualities of proof and uncirculated.
"This silver dollar will celebrate the life and legacy of a true pioneer, a passionate educator, and an inspiration to millions," said United States Mint Director Dave Ryder. "We hope this coin will honor Christa McAuliffe’s memory, and we are proud to assist in the continued legacy of her mission to inspire young people to become science and technology leaders."
Twenty-seven design candidates for the commemorative were reviewed. The final designs were selected by the Treasury Secretary after consulting with the family of Christa McAuliffe, the Commission of Fine Arts (CFA), the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC), and the non-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.
Created by Laurie Musser and sculpted by Phebe Hemphill, the selected obverse or heads side design depicts a portrait of Christa McAuliffe with a hopeful gaze.
Surrounding inscriptions read: "CHRISTA McAULIFFE," "2021," "LIBERTY," and "IN GOD WE TRUST."
Designed by Emily Damstra and sculpted by Joseph Menna, the reverse or tails side depicts McAuliffe as a teacher, smiling as she points forward and upward, symbolizing the future. Three high school-age students look on with wonder. The seven stars pay tribute to those who perished in the Challenger tragedy.
Reveres inscriptions include "I TOUCH THE FUTURE. I TEACH.," "E PLURIBUS UNUM," "ONE DOLLAR," and "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA."
Prices and an on-sale date for the silver coins have yet to be published.
The authorizing law 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. The other 2021 program includes $5 gold coins, silver dollars, and 50c clad half dollars to commemorate the National Law Enforcement Memorial and Museum.