A pioneering physicist and astronaut, Dr. McNair was born and raised in Lake City, where as an adolescent he was fascinated with science and math. McNair went on to earn a Ph. D. in physics from MIT and was recognized for his groundbreaking work with lasers, as well as his personal talents as a saxophonist and black belt in karate.
He became a NASA astronaut in 1978 and was one of seven crew members killed when the Space Shuttle Challenger disintegrated after takeoff in 1986. The U.S. Department of Education named an achievement program encouraging graduate and doctorate education for low-income, first-generation college students in his honor.
Eyes on the Stars Video
On January 28, 1986, NASA Challenger mission STS-51-L ended in tragedy when the shuttle exploded 73 seconds after takeoff. On board was physicist Ronald E McNair, who was the second African American to enter space. But first, he was a kid with big dreams in Lake City, South Carolina.
Video produced by StoryCorps, and embedded with permission. Please visit www.storycorps.org for more videos and stories related to Ronald McNair and other inspiring citizens.