Late astronaut's brother visits Downey space center

DOWNEY - Carl McNair, brother of astronaut Ronald E. McNair who perished along with six fellow astronauts in the disastrous launch of the space shuttle Challenger STS 51L mission on Jan. 28, 1986, capped a day of remembrance about his younger sibling with the showing of a brief documentary and a book signing Tuesday at the Columbia Memorial Space Center.The documentary, entitled "The Life and Legacy of Dr. Ronald E. McNair," and the re-issued book authored by Carl, "In the Spirit of Ronald E. McNair, Astronaut - an American Hero," trace the extraordinary life and legacy of Ronald who, by dint of hard work and dedication to his ideals, went on to earn a Ph. D. in physics at MIT at age 26 and literally "aimed for the stars," by applying to NASA to become an astronaut and besting thousands of program applicants for the privilege of going up in space. "Ron did everything to attain his goals," said Carl, himself an engineer who heads McNair Achievement Programs, LLC, as its CEO, and who is founder and president emeritus of the McNair Foundation, which are dedicated to advancing Ron's ideals. "He early on excelled in track and basketball. He was, among other things, a jazz musician and a karate fifth belter, but most of all, he believed in doing your best and encouraged everyone to make the most of one's life. Ron emphasized and epitomized the importance of hard work, of perseverance, and often said, 'Quitting is not an option'. He had a ringing message, which is 'Life has to be lived at the rugged edge all the time.'" Carl had earlier spoken at McNair Elementary School (named after Ronald) on El Segundo Boulevard in Compton, one of many commemorative celebrations centered on the west coast. Carl said their birthplace was rural Lake City, South Carolina, which had a population of 2,000 and "this includes the chickens." Said Mayor Luis Marquez at the ceremony: "We are extremely proud to have welcomed Mr. Carl McNair to our Columbia Memorial Space Center, where we continue to inspire the next generation of future space explorers." "The anniversary of the Challenger disaster is a day to remember and pay tribute to the crew members whose lives were lost," said Mayor Pro Tem Roger Brossmer. "Our city wishes to thank Mr. Carl McNair for honoring us with his presence and joining us in celebrating such a heroic and extraordinary group of people."

********** Published: January 27, 2011 - Volume 9 - Issue 41