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Current NASA Astronaut to Speak at Black History Month Symposium Honoring SC Hero and Astronaut Ron McNair

Chris Hauff Feb 16, 2017

On Thursday, February 23, two-time space traveling astronaut Christopher Cassidy will board the USS Yorktown to discuss the life and accomplishments of S.C. hero Ron McNair during a Patriots Point Black History Month symposium titled “In the Spirit of Ron McNair.” The free program begins at 11 a.m. and is open to the public.

McNair was born and raised in Lake City, S.C. during the Civil Rights Movement.   In 1984, after overcoming countless obstacles, he became the second African-American astronaut to travel to space.  Just two years later, he was killed in the tragic space shuttle Challenger explosion.

In addition to learning about McNair’s life from his younger brother Eric McNair, the audience, which will include several hundred fifth grade students, will also hear firsthand accounts from Christopher Cassidy about space travel.  The current National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) astronaut has spent more than 182 days in space, has visited the International Space Station (ISS), and completed six spacewalks.

Christopher J. Cassidy (Captain, U.S. Navy) was selected by NASA in 2004 and is a veteran of two space flights, STS-127 and Expedition 35.

“We are honored to have the opportunity to host a program about the extraordinary Ron McNair,” said Patriots Point Executive Director Mac Burdette.  “McNair was raised during times of segregation in the South, and despite that, he was able to persevere to astronomical heights.  His story, paired with the experiences of current NASA astronaut Christopher Cassidy, will make for a very inspiring program.  There are very few people who can say they’ve met an astronaut.”

Respected Charleston musicians, Lonnie Hamilton and Ann Caldwell will perform the National Anthem.   Hamilton will also perform a song at the conclusion of the symposium in tribute of Ron McNair – one McNair had planned to play aboard the space shuttle Challenger before the launch took his life.

Admission and parking for “In the Spirit of Ron McNair” is free.  The program, which will also be streamed live through the museum’s social media pages, is part of the ongoing “Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things” symposium series.

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