Black Astronauts

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"Black Astronauts"
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Ronald Ervin McNair born in Lake City, South Carolina on October 21,1950 gave many blacks in the deep south the dream they yearned for. A stand out in his school for academics, Ron chased the American dream. He used his brain as well as his brawn to achieve many goals he set for himself. His attended North Carolina A&T and received his B.S. degree in physics in 1971. He later gained his PhD. from MIT in 1977 with many honorary degrees to follow in 1978, 1980 and 1984.

Ronald was a fifth degree black belt karate instructor and he won five regional championships and he conducted research and studied the foundations of the martial arts. Through all Ronald's accomplishments he was selected to be on the Challenger mission of January 28, 1986. The mission in which the Challenger space craft exploded while being televised on national TV.

Ron McNair was a veteran astronaut and had flown on a previous mission in 1984 as mission specialist. Ron was a avid saxophonist and worked with a composer to play a piece of music that they had worked on in space. It was to be the first music played in space at that time but it was cut short due to that cold morning in January. The rocket boosters exploded and Ronald Mcnair's life was obliterated in a split second. The audience sitting in the viewing stands covered their mouths in horror as the intercom spoke the words "There seems to be a major malfunction." Ronald's passion for life and all his expertise was not wasted or taken in vain. He was just one of six other black astronauts that would go into space for NASA.

His legacy was to his hometown. Lake City a small farming community of less than three thousand people recognized and honored Ronald Mcnair and renamed their middle school after him. There is even a crater on the moon named in honor of him. A simple man with a brilliant talent. His love of people and mathematics have given the black community a chance to reach for the stars and Ronald opened the door for them with his love of life. A physicist, a saxophone player and a fifth degree black belt in Karate make him one of the most interesting black astronauts of the times.

NASA opened the door to minority candidates by selecting the brightest and those with the most potential for their programs success. Ronald Ervin McNair was just one of these brilliant people that saw hope for other black Americans in the fields of science and space travel. Space the final frontier, where color of skin has no boundaries but for the love of the human race.

More about this author: Rex Coker

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