Today marks the 25th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. Someone shared the story of one of the astronaut’s whose life was cut short on that morning. And I wanted to pass it along.
McNair was only the second African-American to visit space. He’d been there once before, aboard a Challenger mission in 1984. On that trip, he played his saxophone while in orbit.
As his older brother, Carl, recalls, McNair started dreaming about space in South Carolina, where he grew up. And he wanted to study science. But first, he needed to get his hands on some advanced books. And that was a problem.
“When he was 9 years old, Ron, without my parents or myself knowing his whereabouts, decided to take a mile walk from our home down to the library,” Carl tells his friend Vernon Skipper.
The library was public, Carl says — “but not so public for black folks, when you’re talking about 1959.”
I’ve always believed the NASA and space exploration are as much about hope and inspiration as scientific discovery. Stories like this one are why we must keep looking beyond our horizons. Because when we accept that Earth is just a small part of a larger universe, it might just make us see past what makes us different and focus on moving forward together.