Remembering Ron McNair and the Challenger Crew

by Nancy Atkinson on January 28, 2013

Today is the 27th anniversary of the space shuttle Challenger disaster. On January 28, 1986, mission STS-51-L ended in tragedy when a O-ring failure in one of the solid rocket boosters allowed hot combustion gases to leak from the side of the booster and burn through the external fuel tank, causing an explosion exploded 73 seconds after takeoff, killing the crew and destroying the shuttle.

On board was a crew of seven. Here, we remember especially physicist Ronald E. McNair, who was the second African American to fly to space. This video is part of StoryCorps, a national oral history project, that you can hear on NPR (National Public Radio) in the US. StoryCorps records the stories of people — usually everyday people — and archive them at the Library of Congress. But this story is about someone famous; someone who kept his eyes on the stars and dreamed big dreams. McNair also few on the STS-41-B mission in 1984. Ron McNair’s brother, Carl, tells the story of how Ron was a kid with big dreams in Lake City, South Carolina.

The crew of Challenger, lost on January 28, 1986. Credit: NASA.

The crew of Challenger, lost on January 28, 1986. Credit: NASA.

Please take a few moments to remember the crew that lost their lives on that day:

– Francis R. Scobee – Mission Commander
– Michael J. Smith – Pilot
– Gregory B. Jarvis – Payload Specialist 1
– Christa McAuliffe – Payload Specialist 2
– Judith A. Resnik – Mission Specialist 1
– Ellison S. Onizuka – Mission Specialist 2
– Ronald E. McNair – Mission Specialist 3


Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

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