Unit09.02: STEAM Biographies: Ronald McNair

Dr. Ronald McNair: America’s Second African-American Astronaut:

Please review the following information:

  • Born: October 21, 1950 in Lake City, South Carolina
  • Died: January 28, 1986 (34), STS-51-L Space Shuttle Challenger disaster.
  • Didn’t let segregation limit his learning…


  • B.S. in Engineering Physics magna cum laude from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (Greensboro, North Carolina)
  • PhD in Physics from MIT in 1976
  • Select for Astronaut Corp class of 1978, one of 35 out of 8,000 applicants, selected with Sally Ride (1st woman in space) and Guion Bluford (1st African American in Space)
    • Flew on STS-41-B aboard the Challenger (1984)
    • Flew on STS-51-L aboard the Challenger (1986), which broke apart 73-seconds after launch
  • “From Good Enough to Better Than Enough” University of South Carolina Commencement Speech, August 1984
    • Succeeding at school/life is like boxing, 
    • there are going to be difficult challenges that will make you want to quit, 
    • but in the end you are better than enough

After watching these videos please test your knowledge by taking the following test in Quizizz:

Dr. Ronald McNair – America’s 2nd Africa-American Astronaut