Partner Series

Welcome to "On This Day ... in Space!" where we peer back in our archives to find historic moments in spaceflight and astronomy. So enjoy a blast from the past with's Hanneke Weitering to look back at what happened on this day in space!

On July 19, 1985, a high school teacher named Christa McAuliffe was selected to become the first American civilian to fly to space.

McAuliffe won NASA's Teacher in Space Project and was selected from more than 11,000 applicants to ride aboard the space shuttle Challenger. Vice President George H. W. Bush made the announcement on July 19, and McAuliffe spent the rest of the year training at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Unfortunately, McAuliffe and her six crewmates were killed when the Challenger broke apart shortly after liftoff. Since then, dozens of learning institutions around the world have been named in her honor. She also has an asteroid, a moon crater and a crater on Venus named after her.

Catch up on our entire "On This Day In Space" series on YouTube with the playlist here.

Email Hanneke Weitering at or follow her @hannekescience. Follow us @SpacedotcomFacebook and Google+