To commemorate the Challenger tragedy which happened on this day in 1986, StoryCorps debuted their latest animated short about astronaut Dr. Ronald McNair. Dr. McNair, the second African American to travel into space, graduated magna cum laude from North Carolina A&T State University with a degree in physics, and went on to earn a Ph.D. in laser physics from MIT. In 1978, he became one of 35 new astronauts selected from a pool of over ten thousand applicants for NASA’s Space Shuttle program, and in 1984 was a crew member on the Challenger.
His achievements are especially worth highlighting and celebrating as they came in the face of overt discrimination. In “Eyes on the Stars” Ronald’s brother Carl talks about the big dreams Ronald had as a kid growing up in Lake City, South Carolina in the 1950s.