Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center
Houston, Texas 77058
In 1975, he studied laser physics with many authorities in the field at E'cole D'ete Theorique de Physique, Les Houches, France. He has published several papers in the areas of lasers and molecular spectroscopy and has given many presentations in the United States and abroad.
Following graduation from MIT in 1976, McNair became a staff physicist with Hughes Research Laboratories in Malibu, California. His assignments included the development of lasers for isotope separation and photochemistry, utilizing nonlinear interactions in low-temperature liquids and optical pumping techniques. He also conducted research on electro-optic laser modulation for satellite-to-satellite space communications, the construction of ultrafast infrared detectors, ultraviolet atmospheric remote sensing, and the scientific foundations of the martial arts.
He first flew as a mission specialist on STS 41-B, which launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on February 3, 1984. He was accompanied by spacecraft commander, Mr. Vance Brand, the pilot, Commander Robert L. Gibson, and fellow mission specialists, Captain Bruce McCandless II, and Lt. Col. Robert L. Stewart. The flight accomplished the proper shuttle deployment of two Hughes 376 communications satellites as well as the flight testing of rendezvous sensors and computer programs. The mission marked the first flight of the Manned Maneuvering Unit and the first use of the Canadian arm (operated by McNair) to position an EVA crewman around Challenger's payload bay. Included were the German SPAS-Ol Satellite, acoustic levitation and chemical separation experiments, the Cinema 360 motion picture filming, five Getaway Specials, and numerous middeck experiments which Dr. McNair assumed primary responsibility for. Challenger culminated in the first landing on the runway at Kennedy Space Center on February 11, 1984. With the completion of this flight, he logged a total of 191 hours in space.
Dr. McNair was a mission specialist on STS 51-L, which was launched from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, at 11:38:00 EST on January 28, 1986. The crew on board the Orbiter Challenger included the spacecraft commander, Mr. F. R. Scobee, the pilot, Commander M. J. Smith (USN), fellow mission specialists, Lieutenant Colonel E. S. Onizuka (USAF), and Dr. J. A. Resnik, as well as two civilian payload specialists, Mr. G. B. Jarvis and Mrs. 5. C. McAuliffe. The STS 51-L crew died on January 28, 1986 after Challenger exploded 1 minute 13 seconds after launch.
ARCHIVAL BIOGRAPHY LAST UPDATED JANUARY 1986