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Launched: Who was Ronald E. McNair?

Ronald E. McNair

Personal: Born Oct. 21, 1950, in Lake City, S.C. Died Jan. 28, 1986, on the space shuttle Challenger when it exploded shortly after takeoff. Survived by his wife and two children.

Hobbies: Fifth-degree black belt karate instructor and performing jazz saxophonist; also enjoyed running, boxing, football, playing cards and cooking.

Education: Received a B.S. in physics from North Carolina A&T State University in 1971 and a Ph.D. in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1976.

Awards: Posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor. Graduated magna cum laude from North Carolina A&T (1971). Named a Presidential Scholar (1967-71), a Ford Foundation Fellow (1971-74), a National Fellowship Fund Fellow (1974-75) and a NATO Fellow (1975).

NASA experience: Selected as an astronaut candidate in January 1978. Completed a one-year training and evaluation in August 1979, qualifying for assignment as a mission specialist on shuttle flights. First flew as a mission specialist on STS 41-B, which launched from Kennedy Space Center on Feb. 3, 1984.

In his words: "Before you can make a dream come true, you must first have one."

Sources: NASA and the Dr. Ronald E. McNair Foundation

— Mark Permenter

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