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 a few 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. Plus, another honorable mention.
Here are some fast facts about these SC astronauts that really rock our world. 🌎
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.
🔭 Helped launch the Hubble Telescope during a mission in 1990.
🚀Logged 690 hours in space (that’s almost a whole month).
🌟 Bonus – Bolden was the first Black NASA administrator to head the agency.
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. | 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 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.)
Frank L. Culbertson, Jr. | Photo via Wikimedia
🌙 Born in Charleston, SC but considers his hometown to be Holly Hill, South Carolina
👨🚀 Selected as a NASA astronaut candidate in May 1984 and has logged over 146 hours in space
🛰️ Served as the Commander of the International Space Station for ~four months in 2001
🚀 Culbertson lived + worked in space for 129 days with the Expedition 3 crew that launched on Aug. 10, 2001 on the STS-105 Discovery. He was the only American not on earth during the Sept. 11 attacks in New York.