On 28 January 1986 the American space shuttle Challenger exploded, exactly 73 seconds after take-off. There were seven astronauts on board, including Ronald McNair, a seasoned musician who had taken his saxophone with him. He was also the second African American in history to go into space, and he had planned to play a solo in zero gravity. The fall took two minutes and the entire cockpit, which was intact, plunged violently into the ocean. He died, along with the others.