Eyes on the stars
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On January 28, 1986, NASA Challenger mission STS-51-L ended in tragedy when the shuttle exploded 73 seconds after takeoff. On board was physicist Ronald E. McNair, who was the second African American to enter space. But first, he was a kid with big dreams in Lake City, South Carolina.
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After the Challenger disaster, scientists spent years trying to understand why it happened, and how to prevent future disasters. Here are some of the results that came from that investigation, and how future astronauts grappled with the dangers of space exploration.Richard Feynman, a world-renowned physicist, was asked to look into the disaster. Here is what he wrote.Here is NASA’s report on the causes of the disaster. The crew of the next NASA mission to launch, the Discovery, grappled with the Challenger disaster, which made the dangers of space exploration very real to them. Here is their history. In 2004, George W. Bush awarded each member of the crew of the Challenger mission with Congressional Space Medals of Honor, including Ronald McNair.StoryCorps is an oral history project that has collected and archived more than 45,000 interviews since 2003. Many of these stories come from people like Ronald McNair who take a stand against discrimination and achieve against great odds. Here are some other stories you can listen to:Ricardo Pitts-Wiley tells his son about an event that shaped him when he was in high school, where he was one of a small number of African American students bused to the school. Sylvia Mendez talks to her sister Sandra Mendez Duran about Mendez v. Westminster, their family's 1945 lawsuit that won Mexican-American children the right to attend white schools. Tia Smallwood tells her daughter Christine about the struggles she faced pursuing a career as a businesswoman in the 1970s. Lourdes Villanueva tells her son Roger about growing up in a family of migrant workers.This TED-Ed Flip was created by Rose Eveleth.