For Ronald McNair, the Sky Was the Limit


(The Root) — Twenty-seven years ago, on Jan. 28, 1986, the nation grieved after the space shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after takeoff, killing all seven crew members. One of them was Ronald McNair, an African-American physicist and NASA astronaut from Lake City, S.C.

His brother Carl recently stopped by StoryCorps, an oral history archive, to talk about his brother. Carl shared an anecdote about his brother defying the segregation rules at the local library in 1959 and, later, the first time they saw an episode of Star Trek.


"How was a colored boy from South Carolina wearing glasses — never flew a plane — how was he going to become an astronaut?" Carl said. "But Ron was the one who didn't accept societal norms as being his norm. That was for other people. And he got to be aboard his own starship Enterprise."

StoryCorps created an animated short from the session. Watch and listen below!

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