CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. | The lost lessons of Christa McAuliffe are finally taught in space.
Thirty-two years after the Challenger disaster, a pair of teachers turned astronauts will pay tribute to McAuliffe by conducting science classes on the International Space Station.
NASA's first designated professor in space, McAuliffe was going to experiment with fluids and demonstrate Newton's laws of motion for school children. She never reached orbit: she and six crew members died during the takeoff of the space shuttle Challenger on January 28, 1986.
Astronauts Joe Acaba and Ricky Arnold will perform some of McAuliffe's lessons in the coming months. He just shared the news during a television link on Friday with students at his alma mater, Framingham State University, near Boston.
"I can not think of a better time or a better place to make this announcement," said Acaba. He and Arnold "hope to help inspire the next generation of explorers and educators."
Four lessons – on effervescence or bubbles, chromatography, liquids and Newton's laws – will be filmed by Acaba and Arnold, then published online by the Challenger Center, a nonprofit organization that supports science, technology, Engineering and mathematics education.
The center's president, Lance Bush, said he was delighted to "bring the lessons of Christa to life."
"We are honored to have the opportunity to complete Christa's lessons and share them with students and teachers from around the world," Bush said in a statement.
On Friday, he thanked Acaba, who along with two crewmates sent questions from students from Framingham State about life in space.
NASA's associate education administrator, Mike Kincaid, said the lessons are "an incredible way to honor and remember" McAuliffe, as well as the entire Challenger team . 59002] Four of the six lessons that McAuliffe planned to record on video during his space flight will be made. Some will be altered to take advantage of what is available aboard the space station.
Lessons should be available online starting this spring.
Ends returns to Earth at the end of February. Arnold flies in March. NASA is billing its consecutive missions as "One year of education at the station."
The two were teaching math and science in high school on opposite sides of the world – Finish in Florida and Arnold in Romania – when NASA chose them as educators-astronauts in 2004.
McAuliffe was teaching history, law and Economics at Concord High School in New Hampshire when she was selected as the lead candidate for NASA's space project in 1985.
Her backup, Barbara Morgan, is on the board of directors of the Challenger Center. Morgan was NASA's first educator-astronaut, flying on the Endeavor ferry in 2007 and helping to build the space station.
McAuliffe planned to keep a diary during his mission on the space shuttle, and a college student asked if the astronauts were doing the same. Acaba said he has been making entries in a leather diary during his 14 years as an astronaut. Write in it every night before going to sleep at the space station.
"When I'm sitting on my porch sometime in the future, I'll look back on all these great times," said Acaba.