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Kin Want 'Living Tribute' to Challenger Astronauts

September 23, 1986|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The families of four Challenger astronauts, gathering for the first time publicly since the space shuttle blew up eight months ago, today announced plans for a national space science education center to serve as a "living tribute" to their loved ones.

"We have lost the Challenger, but we haven't lost the challenge of keeping those dreams alive," June Scobee said in announcing the plan before 20 students at the Stevens Elementary School.

Scobee, 44, the widow of Dick Scobee, commander of the space shuttle that blew up after takeoff on Jan. 28, said the Challenger families have formed a nonprofit foundation to help pay for the new center in Washington.

The families, she said, believe that an educational center is a "living tribute" that is "more appropriate than a memorial of brick and mortar."

Steven McAuliffe, the widower of Concord, N.H., schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe, said his wife and the other six astronauts would not have wanted a granite memorial. Instead, the families selected a project that reflected their ideals and hopes, he said.

'They Felt Terrible'

McAuliffe, a lawyer, said his two children, ages 10 and 7, are doing well in school, even though "they felt terrible, they felt terrible" after the shuttle disaster.

But he said, "The world is the way it is, not the way we wished it had been. That's the way it went, and now the challenge is to make the best of it."

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