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Ronald Mcnair was a physicist and NASA Astronaut. He was part of the 7-crew space mission STS-51-L, serving as a mission specialist along with three others. He was the second African American to fly out into space.
See the fact file below for more information on the Ronald Mcnair or alternatively, you can download our 23-page Ronald Mcnair worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- Ronald Erwin Mcnair was born in Lake City, South Carolina on October 21, 1950.
- His parents were Carl C. McNair and Pearl M. McNair.
- Ronald had an older brother and a younger brother.
- McNair’s fascination with space was piqued by the launch of Sputnik in 1957.
- This interest was further boosted years later by the Star Trek franchise, having a multiethnic cast that pushed the boundaries of possibilities for an African American boy from a small town.
- One day in the summer of 1959, his mother and the police were called to the Lake City Public Library because Ronald refused to leave the library without being permitted to check his books out.
- He studied at Carver High School and graduated in 1967 as valedictorian.
- He studied Engineering Physics at the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University under a scholarship and graduated magna cum laude in 1971.
- Ronald pursued his Ph.D. at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His adviser was Michael Feld.
- Through his Ph.D. work, McNair received recognition for his contributions to laser physics.
- He received four honorary doctorates, a couple of fellowships, and recommendations after graduating from MIT.
- Ronald achieved all of these while working for a 6th-degree Taekwondo black belt.
- Later on, Mcnair worked at the Hughes Research Lab as a staff physicist.
- Ronald was also part of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and the Bahá’í Faith.
- McNair was one of the 35 applicants that were chosen to be part of the NASA astronaut program in 1978.
- Ronald finished his training and evaluation period in August of the same year.
- Ronald first flew into space aboard the Challenger space shuttle for mission STS-41B. This mission started on February 3, 1984 and ended on February 11, 1984.
- During the mission, McNair operated a robotic arm to move a platform for an astronaut to stand on. This enabled astronauts to be positioned in a specific location.
- McNair used this method to help fellow astronaut Bruce McCandless carry out the first untethered spacewalk.
- Ronald’s method was then used in following shuttle missions whenever the crew needed to assemble the International Space Station and repair satellites.
- Flying on this mission made Ronald the second African American to fly to space.
- Boarding the spacecraft Challenger in January 1985, he became part of the mission STS-51L.
- Ronald was also a skilled saxophonist.
- He worked with Jean-Michel Jarre to create a piece for Jarre’s upcoming album Rendez-Vous.
- McNair was to record his saxophone solo while in space on the Challenger, which would make his solo the first piece of original music to have been played and recorded in space.
DEATH AND LEGACY
- On January 28, 1986, at the launch of Challenger from Cape Canaveral, Florida, the spacecraft exploded just 73 seconds after its liftoff.
- Ronald McNair and his 6 crewmates did not survive the disaster.
- McNair was originally buried at Rest Lawn Memorial Park. In 2004, his remains were moved to Ronald E. McNair Memorial Park which was also in Lake City, South California.
- The final track in composer Jarre’s Rendez-Vous album, entitled Last Rendez-Vous, was given the subtitle Ron’s Piece.
- Jarre included a dedication line in the notes: “Ron was so excited about the piece that he rehearsed it continuously until the last moment. May the memory of my friend the astronaut and the artist Ron McNair live on through this piece.”
- McNair was also supposed to take part in Jarre’s concert through a live feed from the Challenger.
- On January 29, 2011, the library in Lake City, South Carolina was dedicated to the Ronald McNair Life History Center.
- The incident in the library when he was 9 years old was recalled by Carl McNair, his brother, and was animated into a short film.
- Many buildings, parks, and schools have been named after McNair.
- Over 150 scholarship and achievement programs are federally funded across the United States to help and encourage juniors and seniors from underrepresented groups, and first-generation and low-income groups to enter the doctoral study.
Ronald Mcnair Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Ronald Mcnair across 23 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Ronald Mcnair worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about Ronald Mcnair who was a physicist and NASA Astronaut. He was part of the 7-crew space mission STS-51-L, serving as a mission specialist along with three others. He was the second African American to fly out into space.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Ronald McNair Facts
- A Boy and His Books
- Laser Solution
- Symbol in Space
- Final Mission
- Mind and Hand
- Stating Places
- Brother’s Beliefs
- Space Time
- To Be an Astronaut
- African Idol
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Use With Any Curriculum
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