Christa Mcauliffe , sponsored by a NASA project, was about to be the first teacher in space, and classrooms of students across the country were tuned in for the television coverage.
At the time, part of what Christa McAuliffe represented was the fact that the shuttle was safe enough that ordinary citizens could now fly on it, that you didn't have to be a professional astronaut.
"We mourn seven heroes: Michael Smith, Dick Scobee, Judith Resnik, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Gregory Jarvis and Christa McAuliffe," he said.
And the president ended on an eloquent note, borrowing phrasing from poet John Gillespie Magee, Jr.'s " High Flight ": "We will never forget them, not the last time we saw them this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye, and 'slipped to the surly bonds of Earth...to touch the face of God.'"
On it, are the names and portraits of Challenger 's crew members, a mission patch and a small United States flag that was recovered from debris on the ocean floor.
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