Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- In August of 1984 Ron McNair spoke to graduates at U.S.C. about the future of space flight.
McNair said, "The road between South Carolina and space flight is not a very simple one, nor is it one filled with guarantees."
Now nearly 27-years after his death that road may have gotten a little easier on Thursday with three major announcements at U.S.C.
South Carolina billionaire Anita Zucker donated $5 million dollars to create the Zucker Institute for Aerospace Innovation within the McNair Center.
U.S.C. President Dr. Harris Pastides said, "Her generosity will support the McNair Chair in aerospace research and also will provide valuable support for education and for workforce development."
Two new master's programs and two other aerospace degree programs were announced as well, giving students more opportunities to get involved in aerospace sciences.
"Both of these degrees will be available online, so they can be taken by students and professionals whether they are in North Charleston or the Upstate," said Dr. Pastides.
The school also named the McNair Chair at the press conference, a scientist from the Delf University of Technology in the Netherlands.
Dr. Pastides said, "Dr. Zafer Gurdal is an expert in design and optimization of composite materials in structures of materials that will be used in planes and space vehicles of today and increasingly in the future."
The McNair Center was established in 2011 with the help of a $5 million dollar pledge from Darla Moore.
That pledge was in honor of fellow Lake City native Ron McNair who died in the Challenger accident in 1986.