McAuliffe's Apple: A Memento of Fate From the Space Shuttle Challenger - NECN
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McAuliffe's Apple: A Memento of Fate From the Space Shuttle Challenger

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    Inside the Christa McAuliffe Room in Concord, New Hampshire, a small, red, ceramic apple hangs on the wall - a pin given to the teacher before her fateful voyage. (Published Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016)

    Inside the Christa McAuliffe Room in Concord, New Hampshire, a small, red, ceramic apple hangs on the wall.

    "It's a little, unknown story," said State Rep. Mel Myler. "It's pretty special."

    Myler was the executive director of the National Education Association of New Hampshire when Concord High teacher Christa McAuliffe was selected to be the first teacher in space.

    "She said, 'Mel, I am taking up a number of different things up and I would like to take something from the Association,'" he recalled. "I happened to have a ceramic apple that had been made by one of our teachers."

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    So, McAuliffe put this three-inch ceramic pin in her personal flight kit aboard the Challenger.

    Myler and his 10-year-old son watched and snapped some photos.

    "You then saw a puff of smoke and a fireball, and immediately Mission Control said, 'there's been a malfunction, there's been a major malfunction,'" Myler said.

    No matter how much time passes, for Myler it still feels like yesterday.

    "Even 30 years after, you don't lose that," he said with tears in his eyes.

    He had completely forgotten about the apple until six months after the disaster, when he got a call from a NASA representative.

    "He said, 'would you like to have it back?' and I said, 'you have it? Absolutely'" Myler explained.

    Somehow, authorities found the pin among the Challenger debris.

    Though McAuliffe didn't make it back to Earth that day, her tiny, red apple did - carrying with it a legacy that Myler says will live on forever.

    "It's the challenge to reach beyond what people think they might be able to do, because she was reaching for her star," he said. "She represented what was the best of education, and that's what this is all about."

    Myler wants to make certain that while Granite Staters honor McAuliffe every year, we continue to remember the lives of the other six Challenger crew members and their families.

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