Space isn’t just a distraction. It could be our salvation

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It was a bright spot in the long, dark tunnel that has been the year 2020. In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe, SpaceX made history on May 31 by launching NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to the International Space Station from Cape Canaveral, Florida, in its sleek, modern Crew Dragon spacecraft. While much of humanity yearned simply to go to a restaurant or just leave the house, two humans left the Earth, starting a new era of space travel. The mission called Demo-1 was the long-awaited demonstration of NASA’s Commercial Crew program, a partnership of the space agency, Boeing and Elon Musk’s SpaceX with the aim of kicking off a new era of human space exploration. Beyond being the first crewed space launch from US soil in nine years, the program will provide a big boost to science in orbit. For more than six decades, space programs run by the US, other countries and now private companies have been developing technologies and making new discoveries in the service of solving hard problems. Some advancements, like satellite-based communications, are well known, and others, like a NASA-supported method of disarming landmines, might surprise those who see big space …

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