In 1985, President Ronald Reagan made the decision that the first civilian in space would be a teacher, and NASA asked OSU to assume the responsibility of supervising and managing the Teacher in Space program. Faculty and staff worked especially close with the two finalists, Barbara Morgan and Christa McAuliffe.
After McAuliffe was chosen, OSU officials were on hand for the launch of the Challenger on January 28, 1986 when the space shuttle burst into a fireball seconds after liftoff, killing all on board. OSU joined the nation in mourning the shocking loss.
Morgan visited campus for a series of programs in the spring of 1987 and eventually flew with the crew of the orbiter Endeavor on a successful mission in August of 2007 as part of the Educator Astronaut Project.