Q&A on the News

Q: Is Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy named after one of the astronauts killed in the explosion of the space shuttle a few years ago? Was it the Challenger? Please give some information about him, if it was.

—Carol Stephens, Newnan

A: The Decatur school, which includes grades pre-K through fifth, is named for the astronaut who died when the Challenger blew up over the Atlantic Ocean 73 seconds after its launch from Kennedy Space Center on Jan. 28, 1986. McNair was a mission specialist on the flight that killed him and six others. He was born in Lake City, S.C., and held degrees from North Carolina A&T and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in addition to other honorary degrees. McNair studied laser physics and was a physicist at Hughes Research Laboratories before being accepted as an astronaut candidate in 1978. He flew a shuttle mission in 1984 and was 35 years old when he died. McNair also was a jazz saxophonist and 5th degree black belt Karate instructor, according to his NASA bio. The Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy is one of many schools throughout the U.S. named for McNair. These also include DeKalb County’s McNair Middle School and McNair High School. Michael Brandon Hill, 20 was charged with aggravated assault on a police officer, terroristic threats and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon after entering the Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy before surrendering on Aug. 20, the AJC reported. No one was injured.

Andy Johnston wrote this column. Do you have a question about the news? We’ll try to get the answer. Call 404-222-2002 or email q&a@ajc.com (include name, phone and city).

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