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Challenger Center for Space Science Education is an international, not-for-profit educational organization founded by the families of the astronauts who were killed in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster on mission STS-51-L.

Through Challenger Center's programs and its international network of Challenger Learning Centers, the diversity, spirit, and commitment to education that exemplified the Challenger 51-L mission continue to impact students, teachers, and families today.

These positive learning experiences raise students’ expectations of success; foster a long-term interest in mathematics, science, and technology; and motivate them to pursue careers in these fields.



The mission of Challenger Center is to spark in young people an interest and a joy in science. As new advances in science and technology occur at an ever more accelerated pace, the need for excellence in education has never been more essential.

Challenger Center's vision is to create a scientifically literate population that can thrive in a world increasingly driven by information and technology. Their vision for the future is a global community where students command their own destinies by developing skills in decision making, teamwork, problem solving, and communication. This vision is based on a realistic assessment of the skills needed for success in the 21st century.

Organization history

In the aftermath of the Challenger accident, the 51-L crew's families came together, still grieving from loss, but firmly committed to the belief that they must carry on the spirit of their loved ones by continuing the Challenger crew's educational mission.

In tribute to the astronauts’ courage and vision, Challenger Center for Space Science Education was founded and incorporated on April 24, 1986. A campaign to raise $1 million in start-up funds was underway by the fall of 1986. All of the families offered their full support. So did companies such as Rockwell International, manufacturer of the space shuttle; Lockheed Martin; and the Gannett Foundation. Then Vice President George Bush wrote a personal check. Many contributions were also received by several memorial funds quickly established to assist the families or to build memorials. In support of the strategic plan, Congress established a $15 million Space, Science, and Technology Education Trust Fund to yield a minimum of $1 million annually in interest for Challenger Center for the next decade. It has subsequently been renewed into perpetuity. The first Challenger Learning Center opened at the Houston Museum of Natural Science in 1988. Whitelyte Design, Inc., Apple Computer and Burns & Trotti designed and built the prototype control center and space station simulators where school kids run a mission to launch a satellite.

The Challenger Learning Centers are Certified Space Educational Products under a program run by the Space Foundation and NASA to recognize space products that benefit life on Earth.

More information

The official logo of Challenger Center is a space shuttle lifting off, with a trail of where it was following behind. The blue ball and white outline represents the Earth and its atmosphere,as the crew of Challenger Mission 51-L set sail into the heavens. The seven stars represent the seven astronauts who died in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. Each center modifies the logo slightly for their center, yet the significance remains.

Center locations

Funds were raised for a planned anchor learning center in Washington DC and a site was designated by Congress. The Center was not built and later became a townhouse development. Challenger Learning Centers are located at:

Learning Centers Interactive Map


United States

  • Kenai AK - Challenger Learning Center of Alaska
  • Birmingham AL - Challenger Learning Center at McWane Science Center
  • Peoria AZ - Challenger Space Center
  • Tucson AZ - Challenger Learning Center of the Southwest
  • Atwater CA - Challenger Learning Center of the San Joaquin Valley
  • Downey CA - Columbia Memorial Space Science Learning Center
  • Oakland CA - Chabot Space and Science Center
  • Sacramento CA - Challenger Learning Center
  • San Diego CA - Nierman Challenger Learning Center
  • Colorado Springs, Colorado - Challenger Learning Center of Colorado Springs
  • Bridgeport CT - Challenger Learning Center at The Discovery Museum
  • Jacksonville, Florida - Challenger Learning Center at Kirby Smith Middle School
  • Tallahassee, Florida - Challenger Learning Center of Tallahassee
  • Tampa FL - Verizon Challenger Learning Center
  • Columbus, Georgia - Challenger Learning Center
  • Kapolei HI - Challenger Learning Center
  • Bloomington, Illinois - Challenger Learning Center of Central Illinois
  • Woodstock IL - Challenger Learning Center for Science & Technology
  • Brownsburg IN - Brownsburg Challenger Learning Center
  • Hammond IN - Challenger Learning Center of Northwest Indiana
  • Indianapolis IN - Indianapolis Challenger Learning Center
  • Wellington KS - Challenger Learning Center of Kansas
  • Hazard KY - Challenger Learning Center of Kentucky
  • Paducah KY - Challenger Learning Center at Paducah
  • Framingham MA - McAuliffe Challenger Center
  • Lanham MD - Challenger Learning Center at Howard B. Owens Science Center
  • Bangor ME - Challenger Learning Center of Maine
  • Kalamazoo MI - Challenger Learning Center
  • Kansas City MO - Challenger Learning Center
  • St. Louis MO - Challenger Learning Center—St. Louis
  • Paramus NJ - Buehler Challenger & Science Center
  • New York, NY - The NYC Center for Space Science Education[1]
  • Rochester NY - The Challenger Learning Center of Greater Rochester
  • Suffern NY - The Lower Hudson Valley Challenger Learning Center
  • Dayton OH - Challenger Learning Center of Greater Dayton
  • Oregon OH -Challenger Learning Center of Lucas County
  • Columbia SC - Challenger Learning Center
  • Chattanooga, TN - Challenger Learning Center at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
  • Houston TX - Challenger Learning Center
  • Needville TX - Challenger Learning Center George Observatory
  • San Antonio TX - Challenger Learning Center of San Antonio
  • San Benito TX - Challenger Learning Center of the Rio Grande Valley
  • Richmond VA - The MathScience Innovation Center
  • Seattle WA - Challenger Learning Center
  • Wheeling, WV - Challenger Learning Center at Wheeling Jesuit University1


External links


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