Celebrating South Carolina’s astronauts

Astronaut | Image via Pexels

World Space Week is an annual holiday observed October 4-10 by 90+ nations worldwide to honor each year at the international level the contributions of space science and technology to the betterment of the human condition.”

Here in South Carolina, we have three stellar reasons to join in the celebrations. Maj. Gen. Charles F. Bolden, Jr., Col. Charles M. Duke, Jr., and Ronald Erwin McNair, Ph.D. have all participated in extraterrestrial missions, but in this world, they have each been inducted to the South Carolina Hall of Fame.  

Here are some fast facts about these three SC astronauts that really rock our world. 🌎

Maj. Gen. Charles F. Bolden, Jr.

Maj. Gen. Charles F. Bolden, Jr. | Photo via Wikimedia

🌙  Born in Columbia, South Carolina (He even got to fly on a space shuttle named Columbia.)

👨‍🚀 Selected in 1980 for training as an astronaut by NASA

🥇 First Black NASA administrator to head the agency on a permanent basis 

🔭  Helped launch the Hubble Telescope during a mission in 1990 

🚀 Logged 690 hours in space (that’s almost a whole month)

Col. Charles M. Duke, Jr.

Col. Charles M. Duke, Jr. | Photo via Wikimedia

🌙 Grew up + graduated from high school in Lancaster, South Carolina

👨‍🚀 Selected in 1966 for astronaut program by NASA

🔭 One of 12 people from the US to walk on the moon (and the only person from SC to ever go)

🚀 Duke was the lunar module pilot for Apollo 16. Apollo 16 “collected a record 210 pounds of lunar rock and soil samples that provided a wealth of new information for scientists.”

Ronald Erwin McNair, Ph.D.

Ronald Erwin McNair, Ph.D. | Photo via Wikimedia

🌙Born in Lake City, South Carolina

👨‍🚀 Selected in 1978 as one of the first Black astronauts by NASA (after attending segregated schools and then earning a PhD from MIT) 

🛰️ Served as a mission specialist to deploy two communication satellites on an eight-day mission in 1984 on Space Shuttle Mission 41-B of the Challenger 

🚀 McNair + all crew members aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger were tragically killed just after liftoff on January 28, 1986 when a booster engine failed.

These three men certainly changed our state’s, our nation’s, and our world’s history. You can learn more about these South Carolina heroes and pioneers and hear from Bolden + Duke firsthand in this video from PBS and this longer version too. (We have to say – these videos made us both laugh and cry.)