Ronald McNair

Ronald Erwin McNair (October 21, 1950 – January 28, 1986) was an American NASA astronaut and physicist. 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 in a crew of seven.

In 1976, he received a Ph.D. degree in Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology under the guidance of Michael Feld, becoming nationally recognized for his work in the field of laser physics.

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 Challenger disintegrated nine miles above the Atlantic Ocean just 73 seconds after liftoff.[1]

In 1971, he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering Physics, magna cum laude, from the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensboro, North Carolina.[2]

After graduation from MIT (receiving four honorary doctorates, a score of fellowships and commendations while achieving a 6th degree black belt in taekwondo, he became a staff physicist at the Hughes Research Lab in Malibu, California. McNair was a member of the Bahá'í Faith.[3]

He is survived by his wife, Cheryl, and two children. His kids were Joy Charey Mcnair (Daughter) and Reginald Ervin Mcnair (son). McNair was a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity.[2]

Ronald Erwin McNair
Ronald mcnair
BornOctober 21, 1950
DiedJanuary 28, 1986 (aged 35)
AwardsCongressional Space Medal of Honor
Space career
NASA Astronaut
Time in space
7d 23h 15m
Selection1978 NASA Group
MissionsSTS-41-B, STS-51-L
Mission insignia
Sts-41-b-patch.png STS-51-L-patch-small.png
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.[4] A children's book, Ron's Big Mission, offers a fictionalized account of this event. His brother, Carl S., also wrote the official biography, In the Spirit of Ronald E. McNair—Astronaut: An American Hero.

McNair graduated as valedictorian of Carver High School in 1967.[5]

Astronaut candidates Ronald McNair, Guion Bluford, and Frederick Gregory
Astronaut candidates Ron McNair, Guy Bluford, and Fred Gregory wearing Apollo spacesuits, May 1978

Music in space

McNair was an accomplished saxophonist.

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[6] (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.

Public honors

McNair was posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor in 2004, along with all crew members lost in the Challenger and Columbia disasters.

McNair statue
Dr. Ronald E. McNair memorial in his hometown, Lake City, South Carolina
Dr. Ronald E. McNair tomb in his hometown, Lake City, South Carolina
Ron McNair memorial jeh
Ronald McNair Park in Brooklyn, New York City
Ronald E. McNair South Central Police Station of the Houston Police Department in Houston, Texas

A variety of public places, people and programs have been renamed in honor of McNair.

McNair Hall View 2012f
Ronald E. McNair Hall, On the campus of North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, North Carolina

See also


  1. ^ "Astronaut Bio: Ronald E. McNair 12/03". Retrieved February 23, 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Ronald E. McNair Bio". NASA. Retrieved March 25, 2014.
  3. ^ Venters, Louis E., the III (2010). Most great reconstruction: The Baha'i Faith in Jim Crow South Carolina, 1898–1965 (Thesis). Colleges of Arts and Sciences University of South Carolina. ISBN 978-1-243-74175-2. UMI Number: 3402846.
  4. ^ a b "Astronaut's Brother Recalls A Man Who Dreamed Big". January 28, 2011. Retrieved November 18, 2012.
  5. ^ a b Smith, Bruce (January 28, 2011). "Small SC town pauses to remember astronaut son". Retrieved January 29, 2011.
  6. ^ "The history of synthpop". Retrieved February 23, 2017.
  7. ^ Popova, Maria, "Eyes on the Stars: Astronaut Ronald McNair, Who Perished in the Challenger Disaster, Remembered by His Brother in an Affectionate Animated Short Film", Brain Pickings.
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-03-18. Retrieved 2013-09-16.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link), last accessed September 16, 2013.
  9. ^ Hague, Jim. "In a Class By Itself". Jersey City Magazine, Spring & Summer 2011, p. 55.
  10. ^ "Fourth-Masonic-District". Archived from the original on 2017-01-18. Retrieved February 23, 2017.
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-04-19. Retrieved 2014-04-18.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ Bryan, Shevaun (August 5, 2014). "New school, old building: first day of school at McNair Junior High". Huntsville, AL: WHNT-TV. Retrieved September 7, 2014.
  13. ^ Ronald McNair Academy Archived 2009-09-01 at the Wayback Machine, accessed January 28, 2011.
  14. ^ "Alvin ISD Board Members Approve New Facility Name", Alvin Independent School District.
  15. ^ "Dr. Ronald E. McNair Park, Crown Heights, Brooklyn". Retrieved February 23, 2017.
  16. ^ "Historical Sign Listings : NYC Parks". Retrieved May 18, 2012.
  17. ^ Walsh, Kevin "DR. RONALD E. McNAIR PARK, Prospect Heights" Forgotten-NY January 28, 2018
  18. ^ "Dr. Ronald McNair Playground". Retrieved November 23, 2012.
  19. ^ "TRIO – Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program – Home Page". May 9, 2012. Retrieved May 18, 2012.
  20. ^ "TRIO – Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program – About". University of Central Florida. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
  21. ^ "The Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Scholars Program – Program Services". Retrieved May 2, 2018.

External links

Dr. Ronald E. McNair Academic High School

Dr. Ronald E. McNair Academic High School (often dubbed Academic previous to its dedication, or as McNair) is a Magnet public high school located at 123 Coles Street in Jersey City, in Hudson County, New Jersey, United States. The school is named in memory of Dr. Ronald E. McNair, the astronaut and scientist who died in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. McNair is part of the Jersey City Public Schools district. The school has been accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Secondary Schools since 1979.As of the 2015-16 school year, the school had an enrollment of 710 students and 52.0 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 13.7:1. There were 269 students (37.9% of enrollment) eligible for free lunch and 84 (11.8% of students) eligible for reduced-cost lunch.The school offers a wide selection of Advanced Placement (AP) Courses, in addition to a standard curriculum that contains courses at the Honors level. 21 AP courses were offered in 2010, with 897 students taking exams and 83.8% of those taking the exams scoring 3 or higher, more than quadruple the statewide average. Most electives are regular, unweighted classes. From 2008 to 2010, 100% of the class has graduated and in 2010 a full 100% of the student body indicated that they planned to attend a four-year college.

Guion Bluford

Guion Stewart Bluford Jr., Ph.D. (born November 22, 1942), (Col, USAF, Ret.), is an American aerospace engineer, retired U.S. Air Force officer and fighter pilot, and former NASA astronaut, who was the first African American in space (but not the first African American astronaut). Before becoming an astronaut, he was an officer in the U.S. Air Force, where he remained while assigned to NASA, rising to the rank of Colonel. He participated in four Space Shuttle flights between 1983 and 1992. In 1983, as a member of the crew of the Orbiter Challenger on the mission STS-8, he became the first African American in space as well as the second person of African ancestry in space, after Cuban cosmonaut Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez.

James Douglas, Lord of Douglas

Sir James Douglas (also known as Good Sir James and the Black Douglas) (c. 1286 – 25 August 1330) was a Scottish knight and feudal lord. He was one of the chief commanders during the Wars of Scottish Independence.

Jemison High School (Huntsville)

Jemison High School is a new public high school in Jemison, Alabama, United States. It is named for Jemison, a native of nearby Decatur, Alabama who was the first African-American female astronaut.The school is built on the same campus as McNair Junior High School, which is named for the late Ronald McNair, the second African-American astronaut in space, who was killed in the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger.

The school contains a magnet program called the College Academy which works alongside The University of Alabama in Huntsville to provide students with college credit throughout high school.

The school replaces J.O. Johnson High School, which closed its doors at the end of the 2015-16 school year.

Lake City, South Carolina

Lake City is a city in Florence County, South Carolina, United States. The population was 6,675 at the 2010 census. Located in central South Carolina, it is south of Florence and included as part of the Florence Metropolitan Statistical Area.

List of African-American astronauts

African-American astronauts are people who have either traveled into space or been part of an astronaut program.

List of lunar craters named for space explorers

Fourteen craters on the Moon have been named after astronauts and cosmonauts who have died as part of a space mission. Most craters are on the far side of the moon.

Four craters were named after the Apollo 1 astronauts and a Soviet cosmonaut of the Soyuz 1 mission, all four of whom died in 1967:

Gus Grissom

Ed White

Roger B. Chaffee

Vladimir KomarovSubsequently, three craters were named after the Soyuz 11 cosmonauts, who died June 30, 1971:

Vladislav Volkov

Georgi Dobrovolski

Viktor PatsayevSince then, seven craters have been named after the Space Shuttle Challenger astronauts who died on the January 28, 1986 launch of that orbiter.

Dick Scobee

Gregory Jarvis

Ronald McNair

Ellison Onizuka

Judith Resnik

Michael J. Smith

Christa McAuliffeThe astronauts of the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster are memorialized in the Columbia Hills on the planet Mars, with names expected to be approved by the IAU.

Marshall Bouldin III

Marshall Bouldin III (September 6, 1923 – November 12, 2012) was an American portrait artist from the U.S. state of Mississippi. Examples of his Oil paintings are currently held in more than 400 private and public art collections throughout the United States. The New York Times once praised Bouldin as "the South's foremost portrait painter." Bouldin became the first painter to be inducted into the National Portrait Artist Hall of Fame of the Portrait Society of America.Bouldin was born in Dundee, Mississippi, a small farming community in the northwest part of Mississippi, near the Mississippi River. He worked at his family's cotton farm until he became a professional portrait artist during the 1950s. He painted more than 800 individuals throughout his life, including such notable subjects as Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Jim Wright, Mississippi Governor William Winter, United States Senator John C. Stennis of Mississippi, Tricia Nixon Cox, Julie Nixon Eisenhower, William Faulkner, Space Shuttle Challenger crew member Ronald McNair, and United States Representative Claude Pepper of Florida.Bouldin, a resident of Clarksdale, Mississippi, died at St. Francis Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, on November 12, 2012, at the age of 89.


McNair is a surname. Notable people with the surname include:

Alexander McNair, American politician

Andrew McNair, ringer of the Liberty Bell

Arnold McNair, 1st Baron McNair

Barbara McNair, African-American singer and actress

Benjamin McNair, Australian actor

Bob McNair (1937-2018), American businessman

Buck McNair (1919-1971), Canadian Second World War flying ace

Craig McNair, New Zealand politician

Duncan McNair, British lawyer, activist and author

Eric Archibald McNair, Victoria Cross recipient

Evander McNair, American army officer

Fred McNair, American tennis player

Fred McNair, American footballer

Frederick McNair (disambiguation), various

Frederick V. McNair Jr., American naval officer

Gabrial McNair, composer

Harold McNair, British saxophonist

Heather McNair, American actress

Ian McNair, Australian market researcher

John McNair (congressman)

John B. McNair, premier of New Brunswick, Canada, from 1940 to 1952

John Frederick Adolphus McNair, British engineer

Lesley J. McNair, American general

Paddy McNair (born 1995), Northern Ireland footballer

Paul D. McNair, Canadian non-profit executive

Richard Lee McNair, American criminal

Rick McNair (1942–2007), playwright, author, director

Robert Evander McNair (1923–2007), American politician, governor of South Carolina

Robin McNair (1918–1996), British Royal Air Force Second World War fighter pilot and civilian aviation executive

Ronald McNair (1950–1986), physicist and astronaut

Ron McNair (born c. 1950), American politician

Sally McNair, British journalist

Steve McNair (1973–2009), American National Football League quarterback

Sylvia McNair, American opera singer

Todd McNair, American football coach

Winifred McNair, British tennis player

William N. McNair, mayor of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania from 1934 to 1936Fictional characters

Tom McNair, a lead character in the British television series Being Human

McNair (crater)

McNair is a small lunar impact crater on the far side of the Moon. It lies within the double-ringed Apollo basin, inside the eastern part of the interior ring. It has partly merged with the crater Jarvis, and the two share a common rim. To the south of McNair lies Borman.

This is a bowl-shaped feature with a somewhat worn outer rim. There are some tiny craterlets along the southern rim, and a narrow cut through the edge to the south-southwest. The interior floor is relatively featureless.

The crater name was approved by the IAU in 1988 in honor of Ronald McNair, killed in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster on January 28, 1986. The crater was formerly designated Borman A, a satellite crater of Borman.

McNair High School

Ronald E. McNair High School is a public school in DeKalb County, Georgia, United States, located at 1804 Bouldercrest Road SE, Atlanta, GA 30316. It is southeast of Atlanta. The school was originally named Walker High School, but was renamed to McNair High School in 1987.

NASA Astronaut Group 8

NASA's Astronaut Group 8 was a group of 35 astronauts announced on January 16, 1978. It was the first selection in nine years of astronaut candidates since Group 7 in August 1969, and also included NASA's first female astronauts. Due to the long delay between the last Apollo lunar mission in 1972 and the first flight of the Space Shuttle in 1981, few astronauts from the older groups stayed with NASA. Since then, a new group of candidates has been selected roughly every two years.In Astronaut Group 8, two different astronaut groups were formed: pilots and mission specialists. (With shuttle classes, NASA stopped sending non-pilots for one year of UPT.) Of the 35 selected, six were women, three were male African Americans, and one was a male Asian American.

Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program

The Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program, also referred to as the McNair Scholars Program, is a United States Department of Education initiative with a goal of increasing "attainment of PhD degrees by students from underrepresented segments of society," including first-generation low-income individuals and members from racial and ethnic groups historically underrepresented in graduate programs.

Rufus King International School – Middle Years Campus

Rufus King International School – Middle School Campus, or Rufus King Middle School, is a public magnet intermediate school located on the north side of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, part of the Milwaukee Public Schools district. It was launched in September 2010 in the Ronald McNair building.

The middle school, which began its first school year in 2010, is part of the 6-12 program of Rufus King International School. The program incorporates the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme.

The curriculum includes English, math, science, social studies, Spanish, and an engineering program. Electives include physical education, music and art.


STS-41-B was the tenth NASA Space Shuttle mission and the fourth flight of the Space Shuttle Challenger. It launched on February 3, 1984, and landed on February 11 after deploying two communications satellites. It was also notable for including the first untethered spacewalk.

Following STS-9, the flight numbering system for the Space Shuttle program was changed. Thus, the next flight, instead of being designated STS-11, became STS-41-B; the original successor to STS-9, STS-10, was cancelled due to payload delays.


STS-51-L was the 25th mission of the United States Space Shuttle program, the program to carry out routine transportation for Earth-to-orbit crew and cargo; as well as the final flight of Space Shuttle Challenger.

Planned as the first Teacher in Space Project in addition to observing Halley's Comet for six days, the mission never flew past orbit; a structural failure during its ascent phase 73 seconds after launch from Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39 on January 28, 1986, killed all seven crew members—Commander Dick Scobee, Pilot Michael J. Smith, Mission Specialists Ellison S. Onizuka, Judith A. Resnik and Ronald E. McNair, and Payload Specialists Gregory Jarvis and Christa McAuliffe—and destroyed the orbiter.

Immediately after the disaster, NASA convened the Rogers Commission to determine the cause of the explosion. The failure of an O-ring seal on the starboard Solid Rocket Booster (SRB) was determined to have caused the shuttle to break-up in flight. Space Shuttle flights were suspended for 32 months while the hazards with the shuttle were addressed. The Space Shuttle program resumed with STS-26, launched two years after the accident.

Southwest Independent School District

Southwest Independent School District is a public school district located in southwestern Bexar County, Texas (USA).

The district covers a 115-square-mile (300 km2) area that includes portions of the city of San Antonio and Von Ormy.

In 2009, the school district was rated "academically acceptable" by the Texas Education Agency.

Thomas Randolph, 1st Earl of Moray

Thomas Randolph, Earl of Moray (c. 1278 – 20 July 1332) was a soldier and diplomat in the Wars of Scottish Independence, who later served as regent of Scotland.

Treaty of Corbeil (1326)

The Treaty of Corbeil (1326) renewed the Auld Alliance between France and Scotland. It confirmed the obligation of each state to join the other in declaring war if either was attacked by England. The deputation from Scotland (then under the rule of Robert the Bruce) was led by Thomas Randolph, 1st Earl of Moray.

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