Ronald McNair

physicist, astronaut (1950-1986)

Ronald Erwin McNair (October 21, 1950 – January 28, 1986) was an American NASA astronaut and physicist. His first space mission was STS-41-B aboard Space Shuttle Challenger in 1984. After this mission, he was again on Challenger for STS-51-L. He died at the start of this mission when the space shuttle was destroyed during the launch. He was the second African American in space.

Ronald McNair
McNair, c. early 1980s
Born(1950-10-21)October 21, 1950
StatusKilled during mission
DiedJanuary 28, 1986(1986-01-28) (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

McNair was born in Lake City, South Carolina. He earned degrees at North Carolina A&T State University (B.S.) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Ph.D.). He also held four honorary doctorates and many fellowships. He was married to Cheryl Moore. The couple had two children.

On January 28, 1986, Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart 73 seconds after launch. McNair and all six others aboard died.[1]


  1. "Biographical Data" (PDF). NASA. December 2003. Retrieved March 23, 2019.

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