First blacks in space

Anniversary of the Moon Walk: 10 African American Space Pioneers

(Image: File)

Ronald E. McNair

In 1984, NASA physicist Ronald E. McNair became the second African American man to fly in space. Tragically, McNair died just two years later when the shuttle Challenger exploded less than two minutes after launch.

A star athlete, honor student, skillful musician, and karate champion, he set a goal of getting his Ph.D. within 10 years of graduation from high school.

After his death, members of Congress provided funding for the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program to encourage minority, low-income, and first generation college students to expand their educational opportunities and pursue graduate studies.