“Ron was someone who didn't accept societal norms as being his norm.”

On the morning of January 28, 1986, the space shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after lifting off. All seven crew members were killed.

Ronald McNair was one of the astronauts aboard Challenger that day. A graduate of MIT who grew up in the small farming community of Lake City, South Carolina, McNair was only the second African-American to visit space.

His older brother, Carl, talked about how Ronald’s journey from the rural South to outer space began with an act of courage at the local public library.

Image of
Recorded in
Recorded in Atlanta, Georgia

NBC News live coverage of the explosion.

CBS Evening News from January 28, 1986.

President Reagan addresses the nation after the disaster.

Ronald McNair's NASA biography.

Ronald McNair's hometown remembers.

Carl McNair has written a book about his brother's life.

Produced by Michael Garofalo
Facilitated by Elaine Davenport
Read the Transcript
Click here for the transcript.