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Ohio shines bright as nation celebrates Blue Origin space flight

In the midst of the “billionaire space race,” Ohio stands out among the stars

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A passenger space flight was one for the books, Tuesday, thanks to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin rocket.

Nine days ago, billionaire Richard Branson felt zero gravity aboard his own spaceplane.

It’s raising the question: Why should we care?

“People should care about space because space is an integral part of our modern world,” John Horack said.

Horack is a professor at Ohio State University’s John Glenn College of Public Affairs with a focus on mechanical and aerospace engineering. He also helped build the Gamma Ray Observatory, a sister ship to the Hubble Space Telescope, which launched in April 1991 and spent 10 years in space.

“People should care about space like they care about breathing oxygen or reliable power or clean water,” he said.

Horack says the so-called billionaire's space race is doing incredible things for science.

“It’s a golden age of exploration and a golden age of space travel and I expect more to come from this,” he said.

It’s allowing the United States to expand and improve on its reliability in space. It helps to better understand satellite communication and remote sensing for weather. It’s also helping to make space travel safer.

“If we don’t learn how to [go to space] reliably and do that safely and repeatedly you can’t be integrated into our civilization and our well-being and create these positive and social and economic and educational and quality of life outcomes for people,” Horack said.

At the forefront of this, he said, is the state of Ohio.

“I believe Ohio has contributed more astronauts to NASA than any other single state,” he said.

From Ohio space stars like Jim Lovell, Kathryn Sullivan and Neil Armstrong to today. Horack says his former students are now working for companies such as Blue Origin, Space X and NASA.

Horack also credits the many different training and education facilities across Ohio as a way to keep the state on the map with space exploration.