Challenger 51-L  Crew

On January 28, 1986, the seven crew members of the Space Shuttle Challenger/STS-51L “Teacher in Space” mission set out to broaden educational horizons and advance scientific knowledge.  Their mission exemplifies human nature’s best qualities- to explore, discover and teach.  To the nation’s shock and sorrow, their Space Shuttle exploded 73 seconds after liftoff.​
In the aftermath of the Challenger accident, the crew’s families came together to continue the mission through the creation of the Challenger Center for Space Science Education.
There are now more than 40 Challenger Learning Centers (CLC) throughout the world.  The sole CLC in New Mexico is located in the LCPS Professional Development Center and opened in August of 2015.  For all LCPS 6th grade students, two missions per year have been integrated into the core science curriculum as a foundational component of scientific learning.
The Challenger Learning Center of Las Cruces offers dynamic, hands-on exploration and discovery opportunities for students and community members of all ages.  Through our immersive learning experiences, participants become astronauts, engineers, scientists and researchers to solve real-world problems as they share the thrill of exploration on missions throughout the Solar System.  Using space simulations and role-play strategies, students bring their classroom studies to life and cultivate the skills needed for future success. 
A variety of simulations take students outside their routine educational environment, transporting them to a world where learning is fun and teamwork is the key.  Students use critical thinking in the areas of applied STEM.  It’s a motivational setting that evokes creativity and stimulates a love for learning.
Just months after the tragic Challenger explosion Dr. June Scobee Rodgers, the widow of the Challenger Space Shuttle Commander Richard "Dick" Scobee, founded the formation of Challenger Center to honor the important educational mission of the  51L crew. 
The Challenger Learning Center of Las Cruces joins the Challenger Center network as the newest addition to the Challenger family.  Over the past 30 years, Challenger Learning Centers have grown to include centers on 3 continents, in 4  countries and in 27 states.  As the sole Challenger Learning Center in New Mexico, we aim to support STEM education throughout the entire state and continue the mission of the Challenger 51L crew.

Dr. June Scobee Rodgers


Today's students are tomorrow innovators. Sparking interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) at an early age promotes the skills necessary for a trajectory towards success. To succeed in a rapidly changing world, students need exposure to a variety of fields, chances to work with their peers in real-world scenarios, and experiences that open their eyes to new possibilities for the future. For over 30 years, Challenger Learning Center has provided students the opportunity to explore through its innovative programming, by supporting the mission of the 51-Lcrew.

Every day at our center and in the classroom, students of all backgrounds embark on simulated missions to explore the Moon or the depths of our solar system. During these interactive experiences, they use hands-on experiments to investigate phenomena and solve problems. Every student has a role to play in achieving the misssion goals, building confidence in their own abilities, and demonstrating the power of teamwork.  In a matter of hours, these missions ignite the potential  within each student, opening their eyes to new skills and concepts that will lead to accomplishment through continuing the legacy of exploration.