Ronald Erwin McNair (October 21, 1950 – January 28, 1986) was an American physicist and NASAastronaut. He died during the launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger on mission STS-51-L, in which he was serving as one of three mission specialists. He is survived by his wife, Cheryl, and two children. His kids were Joy Charey Mcnair (Daughter) and Reginald Ervin Mcnair (son)
Some of NASA's first African-American astronauts including Dr. Ronald McNair, Guy Bluford and Fred Gregory from the class of 1978 selection of astronauts.
Born October 21, 1950, in Lake City, South Carolina, his parents were Pearl M. and Carl C. McNair. He had two brothers, Carl S. and Eric A. McNair.
In the summer of 1959, he refused to leave the segregated Lake City Public Library without being allowed to check out his books. After the police and his mother were called, he was allowed to borrow books from the library, which is now named after him. His brother, Carl S., also wrote the official biography, In the Spirit of Ronald E. McNair- Astronaut: An American Hero (https://www.amazon.com/Spirit-Ronald-McNair-Astronaut-American/dp/) A children's book, Ron's Big Mission, offers a fictionalized account of this event.
In 1978, McNair was selected as one of thirty-five applicants from a pool of ten thousand for the NASA astronaut program. He flew on STS-41-B aboard Challenger from February 3 to February 11, 1984, as a mission specialist becoming the second African American and the first Bahá'í to fly in space.
Following this mission, McNair was selected for STS-51-L, which launched on January 28, 1986, and was subsequently killed when Challengerdisintegrated nine miles above the Atlantic Ocean just 73 seconds after liftoff.
Before his last fateful space mission he had worked with the composer Jean-Michel Jarre on a piece of music for Jarre's then-upcoming album Rendez-Vous. It was intended that he would record his saxophone solo on board the Challenger, which would have made McNair's solo the first original piece of music to have been recorded in space (although the song "Jingle Bells" had been played on a harmonica during an earlier Gemini 6 spaceflight). However, the recording was never made as the flight ended in disaster and the deaths of its entire crew. The last of the Rendez-Vous pieces, "Last Rendez-Vous", had the additional name "Ron's Piece". Ron McNair was supposed to take part in the concert through a live feed.
McNair was posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor in 2004, along with all crew members lost in the Challenger and Columbia disasters.
On January 29, 2011, the Lake City, South Carolina, library was dedicated as the Ronald McNair Life History Center. When Ronald McNair was nine, the police and his mother were called because he wished to check out books from this library, which served only white patrons before he arrived. He said, "I'll wait," to the lady and sat on the counter until the police and his mother arrived, and the officer said, "Why don't you just give him the books?" which the lady behind the counter reluctantly did. He said, "Thank you, Ma'am," as he got the books. The episode as recalled by his brother Carl McNair has been depicted in a short animated film.
Several K-12 schools have also been named after McNair.
The McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program, which operates at 179 campuses in the U.S. (April 7), awards research money and internships to first-generation and otherwise underrepresented students in preparation for graduate work.
The song "A Drop Of Water", recorded by Japanese jazz artist Keiko Matsui, with vocals by the late Carl Anderson, was written in tribute to McNair.
The Jean Michel Jarre track "Last Rendez-Vous" was re-titled "Ron's Piece" in his honor. McNair was originally due to record the track in space aboard Challenger, and then perform it via a live link up in Jarre's Rendez-vous Houston concert.
There are over 150 federally funded McNair Scholars/Achievement Programs across the United States designed to encourage juniors and seniors who are first-generation and low-income, or members of groups that are underrepresented in graduate education college to enter doctoral study. Michigan State University and Washington State University are two examples of these programs and both offer Summer Research Opportunity Program as additional program components.
This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.