SC History Trail

Ronald McNair Memorial

Lake City is the birthplace of Dr. Ronald E. McNair, a NASA astronaut, who was killed in the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger in 1986. A monument at this site memorializes his life and career.


Ronald McNair Memorial
221 East Main St., Lake City, SC 29560
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Site Description
A handsome bronze and granite monument memorializes the life and career of American astronaut Dr. Ronald E. McNair, who was one of the seven American crewmen who died aboard the space shuttle Challenger in 1986. McNair was born in Lake City on October 21, 1950, to Carl and Pearl McNair. His father was an auto mechanic and his mother was a school teacher. In 1967, McNair graduated from Lake City's all-black and segregated Carver High School as class valedictorian. He earned a bachelor of science degree in Physics from North Carolina A&T State University in 1971, and a doctor of philosophy in Physics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1976.

Dr. McNair became a leader in laser physic technology, and was selected for NASA's astronaut program from approximately 10,000 applicants. In 1984, McNair became the second African-American to fly in space, when he took his first mission aboard the Challenger. On his second mission, on January 28, 1986, he and the other crew members of the Challenger perished when the rocket propelling the space shuttle exploded moments after the craft's launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
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Access Description: Daily - Dawn to Dusk