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Here and Now

30 Years After Challenger Explosion, Locals Remember Christa McAuliffe

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Thirty years ago Thursday, the nation watched in horror as the space shuttle Challenger exploded moments after takeoff, killing six astronauts and Christa McAuliffe, a high school teacher from Concord, New Hampshire. She was one of 11,000 applicants to get the opportunity and was set to be the first private citizen in space.

Holly Merrow and Alison Cohen were watching that day from Concord High School. Merrow, now a teacher in Camden, Maine, was one of McAullife’s students. Cohen was a young reporter with local New Hampshire radio station WGIR and had interviewed McAuliffe and her husband Steven several times leading up to the space flight.

Merrow and Cohen join Here & Now’s Peter O’Dowd to remember McAuliffe and the impact that day had on the community.


  • Holly Merrow, former student of Christa McAuliffe. She’s now a math teacher for students in fifth through eighth grade in Camden, Maine.
  • Alison Cohen, former reporter with local New Hampshire station WGIR covering Christa McAuliffe and the Challenger. She’s now media director at the nonprofit EDC in Waltham, Massachusetts.
Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

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