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A return to exploration

The United States has, once again, set its sight for the stars.

Following a weather delay last week, the nation watched Saturday afternoon as the first manned flight to launch from American soil in almost a decade lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

With astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley on board, the Crew Dragon capsule traveled to the International Space Station as part of a mission organized through the cooperation of NASA and SpaceX, marking the first time a private company has helped carry humans into orbit.

The launch was the culmination of six years of work, beginning in 2014 when NASA contracted with Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Boeing to build human-rated vehicles to reignite American space travel, which had come to a halt when the shuttle program was shuttered in 2011. Since then, the U.S. has had to rely on Russian space missions — at a cost of $80 million a seat — to continue any aspect of our manned space program.

The launch of the Dragon capsule — dubbed Endeavour by Hurley and Behnken, after the shuttle both flew in on their first missions — was historical and will, hopefully, lead to new opportunities in scientific research and technological development.

It reignites the American dream of space flight for this generation and those to follow, while continuing the traditions and legacy of explorers such as Alan Shepard, John Young, Neil Armstrong, Story Musgrave, John Glenn, Pete Conrad and so many others as we look farther into the final frontier.

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