Sharon Christa McAuliffe was killed along with the entire crew; mission commander Francis R. Scobee; pilot Michael J. Smith; mission specialists Ronald E. McNair, Ellison S. Onizuka, and Judith A. Resnik; and payload specialists Gregory B. Jarvis. Christa McAuliffe was also listed as a payload specialist.
The cause of the Challenger explosion was later determined to be the failure of an o-ring due to extreme cold temperatures. However, the real problems may have had more to do with politics than engineering.
After the tragedy, the families of the Challenger crew banded together to help form the Challenger Organization, which provides resources for students, teachers, and parents for educational purposes. Included in these resources are 42 Learning Centers in 26 states, Canada, and the UK which offer a two-room simulator, consisting of a space station, complete with communications, medical, life, and computer science equipment, and a mission control room patterned after NASA's Johnson Space Center and a space lab ready for exploration.
Also, there have been many schools and other facilities around the country named after these heroes, including the Christa McAuliffe Planetarium in Concord, NH.
Part of Christa McAuliffe’s mission aboard the Challenger was to have taught two lessons from space. One would have introduced the crew, explained their functions, describing much of the equipment aboard, and telling how life is lived aboard a space shuttle. The second lesson would have concentrated more on spaceflight itself, how it works, why it’s done, etc.
She never got to teach those lessons. However, even though her flight, and her life were cut so cruelly short, her message lives on. Her motto was "I touch the future, I teach." Thanks to her legacy, and that of her fellow crew members, others will continue to reach for the stars.
Christa McAuliffe is buried in a Concord cemetery, on a hillside not far from the planetarium built in her honor.