Ronald McNair

Ronald McNair
Ronald Ervin McNair
NASA Astronaut
Nationality American
Status Killed during an important mission
Born October 21, 1950(1950-10-21)
Lake City, South Carolina
Died January 28, 1986(1986-01-28) (aged 35)
Cape Canaveral, Florida
Other occupation Physicist
Time in space 7d 23h 15m
Selection 1978 NASA Group
Missions STS-41-B, STS-51-L
Mission insignia Sts-41-b-patch.png STS-51-L-patch-small.png

Ronald Ervin McNair, Ph.D. (October 21, 1950 – January 28, 1986) was a physicist and NASA astronaut. McNair died during the launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger on mission STS-51-L.



Born in Lake City, South Carolina. McNair graduated as valedictorian of Carver High School in 1967.[1][1] He was a member of the United Methodist faith committe.

In 1971 he received a bachelor's degree in engineering physics, magna cum laude, from North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, North Carolina. McNair was a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. In 1976, he received his Ph.D. in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology under guidance of Prof. Michael Feld becoming nationally recognized for his work in the field of laser physics. He received three honorary doctorates, a score of fellowships and commendations and achieved a black belt in karate. After graduation from MIT, he became a staff physicist at the Hughes Research Lab in Malibu, California.

Astronaut candidates Ronald McNair, Guion Bluford, and Frederick Gregory


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 in February 1984, as a mission specialist becoming the second African American 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.[2]

Music in Space project

McNair was an accomplished saxophonist. Before his fateful last space shuttle mission he had worked with 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[3] (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 leading to 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

Dr. Ronald E. McNair memorial in his hometown, Lake City, South Carolina
Dr. Ronald E. McNair tomb in his hometown, Lake City, South Carolina
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 and people have been renamed in honor of McNair.

  • The crater McNair on the Moon is named in his honor.
  • Watson Chapel Jr. High was renamed the R. McNair Jr. High School in his honor.
  • Ronald McNair Boulevard in Lake City, South Carolina is named in his honor and lies near other streets named for astronauts who perished in the Challenger crash.
  • The U.S. Department of Education offers the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program for students with low income, first generation students, and/or underrepresented students in graduate education for doctorate education.
  • In Florence, South Carolina, there is a Ronald McNair Math and Science Center at the Francis Marion University.
  • On January 29, 2011, the Lake City library was dedicated as the Ronald McNair Life History Center.[1]
  • Several K-12 schools have also been named after McNair.

Ronald McNair Middle School[5] in East Palo Alto, California

  • A building on the Willowridge High School campus in Houston, Texas is named in honor of Dr. McNair.
  • There is a memorial in the Ronald McNair Park in Brooklyn, New York in his honor.[6][7]
  • The Ronald E. McNair Space Theater inside the Davis Planetarium in downtown Jackson, Mississippi is named in his honor.
  • The Naval ROTC building on the campus of Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana is named in his honor.
  • The Engineering building at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, NC is named in his honor.
  • The McNair Building at MIT houses the Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research.
  • 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.[8]
  • McNair was portrayed by Joe Morton in the 1990 TV movie Challenger.
  • 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 Dr. McNair.
  • The Jean Michel Jarre track Last Rendez-Vous was retitled 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.

See also


  1. ^ a b c Smith, Bruce (2011-01-28). "Small SC town pauses to remember astronaut son". Retrieved 2011-01-29. 
  2. ^ NASA Biography
  3. ^ Synth History
  4. ^ Hague, Jim. "In a Class By Itself". Jersey City Magazine, Spring & Summer 2011. page 55
  5. ^ Ronald McNair Academy, accessed January 28, 2011.
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ [2]
  8. ^ [3]

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Ronald Mc Nair — Ronald E. McNair Ronald McNair Astronaute Nationalité américain Naissance 21 octobre 1950 (Lake City, Caroline du Sud, États Unis) Décès …   Wikipédia en Français

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