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Ronald E. McNair

After earning a B.S. degree in physics, Ronald E. McNair completed a Ph.D. at MIT in 1977 and conducted research on electro-optic laser modulation for satellite space communications before applying to become an astronaut. In January 1978, he was selected as part of NASA’s eighth astronaut class, one of the first three African Americans selected. He became NASA’s second Black American to go to space in February 1984 with STS-41B. Tragically, on January 28, 1986, he was one of seven astronauts who perished on Space Shuttle Challenger.

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Ronald E. McNair

Chosen as a member of NASA's Astronaut Group 8 in 1978, Ron McNair was one of its first three African-American astronauts.

McNair first flew to space as a mission specialist on STS-41B, on which he operated the Canadarm, performed experiments and was responsible for Cinema 360 motion picture filming. On Jan. 28, 1986, he and his six STS-51L crew mates died when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded after launch.

Learn More about Ronald E. McNair
Portrait of astronaut candidate Dr. Ronald E. McNair
S78-35300 (31 Jan 1978) — Portrait of NASA Astronaut Dr. Ronald E. McNair (PH.D.).