Ellison Shoji Onizuka (June 24, 1946 - January 28, 1986) was a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Air Force, an aerospace engineer, and a NASA astronaut. Onizuka flew on two Space Shuttle missions; he died in the Challenger explosion on January 28, 1986.
Onizuka was born on June 24, 1946, in Kealakekua, Kona, Hawaii. He earned undergraduate and master’s degrees in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Colorado, and entered the US Air Force as a flight test engineer in 1970.
Onizuka was chosen as an astronaut candidate by NASA in January, 1978. His first flight was as a mission specialist on the Space Shuttle STS 51-C, which launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on January 24, 1985. It orbited the Earth 48 times (74 hours in space) and then landed at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida.
Onizuka was chosen as the a mission specialist for the Challenger Space Shuttle (STS 51-L), which exploded 1 min. 13 sec. after launch on January 28, 1986, killing the entire crew.