About Ronald McNair
Ronald Ervin McNair, the second African American to fly in space, was born October 21, 1950, in Lake City, South Carolina to Carl and Pearl McNair. He attended North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, where, in 1971, he graduated magna cum laude with a B.S. degree in physics. In 1976, at the age of 26, he earned his Ph.D. degree in physics from the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Ronald E. McNair was nationally recognized for his work in the field of laser physics. In 1978, he was one of 35 applicants selected from a pool of ten thousand for the NASA space shuttle program and assigned as a mission specialist aboard the 1984 flight of the shuttle Challenger.
In addition to his academic achievements, he was the recipient of three honorary doctorates and numerous fellowships and commendations. He was also a sixth degree black belt in karate and an accomplished jazz saxophonist. He was married to Cheryl Moore and had two children, Reginald Ervin and Joy Cheray.
On the morning of January 28, 1986, McNair and his six crew members died in an explosion aboard the space shuttle Challenger. In his memory, members of Congress provided funding for the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program to encourage low-income, first generation college students to enroll in graduate studies. This program is dedicated to the high standard of achievement that Ronald E. McNair's life represented.