Dr. Ronald McNair was born October 21, 1950 in Lake City, South Carolina. Dr. McNair received a bachelors’s degree in physics from North Carolina A&T State University and a Ph.D. in physics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. McNair and his wife, Cheryl Moore McNair, have two children, Reginald and Joy.
Dr. McNair was selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in 1978. He first flew as a mission specialist on STS 41-B in 1983, thereby becoming the second African American in space. He logged 191 hours flight time and was responsible for deploying one of the communication satellites for that mission. Dr McNair was chosen as a mission specialist on Challenger STS 51-L, which was destroyed one minute and 13 seconds after its launch. Dr. McNair made the ultimate sacrifice and lost his life in service to the nation and the space program on January 28, 1986 at 35 years of age.